The Mis-measure of Schools and School Children
Currently, at least 14 states grade their public schools on an A-F scale. Educators are correct to point out that this is a stupid way to hold schools accountable. Three reasons pop out right away when we think about the idiocy of giving schools a letter grade and then publicizing this grade through the media.
- A letter grade cannot possibly capture the complexity of the learning society that is a school. So many factors go into what makes a school high functioning or low functioning that letter grades, leaning heavily on standardized tests, are suspect from the outset.
- Letter grades, again based largely on standardized test scores, narrow the curriculum and encourage poor instructional practice based on test preparation
- Low grades given to schools where teachers, administrators and students are working hard at overcoming the odds, destroy morale and inhibit motivation, while high grades may encourage a false complacency.
So, yes, all educators should fight against these short-sighted, narrow-cast attempts to assess their work on a school-wide basis. Unfortunately, we teachers cannot claim the moral high ground here. Teachers, after all, invented A-F grading and for the past 150 years or so have been working to convince parents, students, and community members that grades are a legitimate way to assess a student's knowledge. This is a lie. It is a lie that the public has bought into wholly and now the public, in the form of state legislatures and departments of education, is coming to punish us with our own invention.
Letter grades for students have all the same flaws as letter grades for schools, Russ on Reading: The Mis-measure of Schools and School Children: