For some time now I have been saying that elementary and secondary school districts who have dropped, or are considering dropping, the fall report cards for “progress reports” are taking the easy way out. Why? They are not preparing students for life beyond high school when they give them grades like “Needs improvement.” That is a cop-out because, while it may not offend the student or his or her parents, it doesn’t teach the child a thing. Whereas, a C grade with accompanying comments on how to actually improve to a B or better, would actually mean something.
I have also been saying that too much emphasis on standardized tests and rote learning can result in cheating or hinder individuals once they come face to face with the real world –i.e., they are not prepared to think independently, abstractly or creatively when faced with essay exams on university mid-terms in October and November of their first year. Funny that. How come universities can have serious mid-term exams in October and November and yet elementary and secondary teachers apparently don’t yet know enough about their students’ progess by then?
Well, its long past time for the political correctness in the school system to stop and for lawmakers, school administrators and teachers’ unions to recognize and restore the notion of individual differences. Remember the Bell Curve and normal distribution? Yes, in our Western societies, we all have an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, culture, colour or religion. But, and here is the politically incorrect but, we are not all created equal intellectually.
Which is why there is currently a post-secondary dilemma. Yes, professors are now being pressured to give higher marks than they used to. And, yes, first year mid-terms have a way of getting rid of students who are not going to do well. However, they also tend to get rid of very capable students who simply don’t know how, either to prepare for their exams or how to complete them successfully.
Remember the problem I mentioned above about rote learning. University exams require abstract and creative thinking and you are either right or you are wrong. No fuzziness. No social promotion. Get it or get out. Just like employers. For those in business, time is money. New employees either learn their jobs or they are fired. There are no accommodations. I once saw a sign on a staff room bulletin board that said: “Be good or be gone.” Yes, it’s a cold competitive world out there. But, that is reality!
In any event, when first year university students do badly or fail their mid terms, it is the universities that are having to come up with programs and strategies to stop students from dropping out — essentially doing the work that those in the regular public system have abrogated.
Endnote: Given that the comment full moderation feature is activated at the moment, there may be a short delay in approving them. My thanks for everyone’s patience!