Monday, April 9, 2012

Cheating to success: School Grades

The lament of a high school teacher, who quit recently from his Fairfax, VA position.  As a graduate of MIT, and Georgetown, and teaching within a school system that would have many "high expectation" children, he would have a clue as to what he was taking about.

An Open Letter to College Admissions Committees
Andrew F. Knight, Fairfax Times, 23 March 2012 (hat tip: MR)

At one time, I suppose, grades might have been an objective and reasonably accurate measure of competence in a given subject. Not anymore. Today, they primarily measure how well a student can game the system. It is quite easy for savvy high school students to pass a course, and in some cases even to receive an A or B, without actually knowing or understanding any of the course content. Here’s how:
He then goes on to show the many many ways that students get good grades without actually knowing anything about the subject matter, or learning very much at all.

This all has very much the air of the battles that go on in New York City over getting your children into the preschool that is on the Harvard-track.

What is ironic is that there is a big push on to not pay attention to standardized admissions tests because they are not good predictors of college success.  That is likely true, but they do have the advantage that they force the student to get a clue about at least some subject matter.

I suspect that high school grades are a good indicator of college success in so far as they are a good predictor of a students ability to game their way through college without actually learning anything either.


PioneerPreppy said...

An interesting list of ways to "get by" and get good grades but in the end he didn't mention the main enabler. Or if he did I missed it.

Quotas and agendas. If the standardized test were not continuously lowered to satisfy the social engineers the teachers couldn't get away with letting the kids slide and grades would still mean something.

kymber said...

ugh. it is getting worse and worse as each generation goes by. in my previous career, i dealt with many "highly-educated" people and experts and although they can rhyme off the stats and buzz-words of their profession - when it comes down to honest, general knowledge about anything else in the known world - they are complete idiots. and i have to agree with PioneerP in regards to quotas and agendas. something of which we highly regard here in canada - bleck!

your friend,

russell1200 said...

PP: LOL - yes, I am sure many will use it as a primer to get better grades. I am sure my grades would have been better in H.S. if I had used some of the techniques. Fortunately, the SAT tests ruled the day back then, and I actually understood the Math and Language.

But, he does not really get into the greater macro-analysis, which is why he is just shouting into the wind.

To your list, I would add the use of school as a socializing mechanism, rather than a teaching mechanism.

K: Fortunately in construction (where I work), at some point you have to be able to build something or you will fall by the wayside. It almost seems un-American (or un-Canadian) to require someone actually knows how to do the work they are employed at.