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My question to you is this. How can you continue to support the idea of not giving zeros, late penalty mark exclusion, failing to provide extra credit opportunities that count for grades, ignoring the real-world consequences of plagiarism, and more in light of recent trends in Canadian productivity, the acknowledged failure of No Child Left Behind, University upheaval with respect to grading in Canada and policies that do not resemble your recommendations employed around the world? As evidence and for your consideration I have accumulated much evidence in the form of an electronic presentation which I will email separately.

2010-07-17
Roger Curtis
 

The
Grade
Doctor
says:

I continue to support the idea of not giving zeros, late penalty mark exclusion, and failing
to provide extra credit opportunities that count for grades because they are educationally
undesirable practices. I fail to see the connection to recent trends in Canadian
productivity, the acknowledged failure of No Child Left Behind, and University upheaval
with respect to grading in Canada. I do not ignore the real-world consequences of
plagiarism as I recommend behavioural AND academic consequences for academic
dishonesty. I am not sure what “policies that do not resemble your recommendations
employed around the world” are as when I have presented in twelve countries outside
North America my recommendations have been received with enthusiastic approval. Thank
you for sending me the PowerPoint presentation. It seems to me that most of you opinions
are based on outdated and dubious beliefs about motivation and I recommend that you
read Daniel Pink’s latest book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.”

 

Roger Curtis's
Comment

2010-07-21

Perhaps the best test of an effective law, policy or practice is its strict enforcement. The results? This is difficult to measure isn't it as so many boards in Ontario chose to have nothing to do with not giving zeros and the use of similar practices. You see, they knew better. As for my board, they decided that everyone would benefit from what you advocated. This, too, has produced a long list of head-scratching parents, frustrated teachers and willing students who would gladly speak to senior administration and board members about the absurdity of such practices. Now add to this the efforts around the world--such as Texas--to stop the practice of not giving zeros and something should ring a warning bell.

The connection to productivity? Considering that the Fraser institute has concluded that Canada needs an 'institutional framework that rewards individual effort and entrepreneurial activity' you can see how this would be hampered by an educational system that rewards those who are shall we say first to the market as those who are last. Your suggested grading practices as described earlier are the antithesis of what is being called for. Add to this the 'Contingency Theory' and you have a recipe for lower expectations and results both in and out of school.

As for University upheaval, I won't reiterate the views of, among others, the authors of Ivory Tower Blues but would recommend it as good reading. The facts will undoubtedly speak for themselves.

While the number of countries in the world is still a matter of some debate, let's use the number 194. So, 12 countries would suggest less than 10 percent of the total number as being interested. This, dare I say, is hardly a glowing endorsement. Rather why don't we see what the top performing PISA test nations employ for assessment and evaluation policies. Surely the whole world would sit up, take notice and beat a path to your door if your suggested trail to success (my words) had any silver-bullet potential.

Better yet, why don't we do some real science and compare various practices for measuring student success in the form of a controlled experiment? Perhaps then the facts would speak for themselves.

As for my 'outdated and dubious beliefs' the proof is as they say 'in the pudding';that is, the failure of your suggestions to be accepted by most students, parents and teachers, boards, nations and more.

Thank you for the reading suggestion. I welcome any book that makes use of 50 years of behavioral science as a foundation for recommendations. In return, may I suggest that you have a look at the recent Canadian book What's Wrong With Our Schools and How to Fix Them. There is a very interesting chapter on assessment and evaluation.

Sincerely,

Roger Curtis


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

0000-00-00

"This, too, has produced a long list of head-scratching parents, frustrated teachers and
willing students who would gladly speak to senior administration and board members
about the absurdity of such practices. Banning zeros is not an absurd practice – it is
mathematically correct but the real culprit is the percentage system. What really needs to
be done is to switch from the percentage system to a level system, preferably with 4 to 7
levels. It is important to note that the two most highly regarded high school programs in
the world – AP and IB – only use levels (5 and 7 respectively).

Now add to this the efforts around the world--such as Texas--to stop the practice of not
giving zeros and something should ring a warning bell. A misguided senator led the effort
in Texas and it is now being challenged legally by a coalition of nine school districts who
recognize the absurdity of the zero in a percentage system.

The connection to productivity? Considering that the Fraser institute has concluded that
Canada needs an 'institutional framework that rewards individual effort and
entrepreneurial activity' you can see how this would be hampered by an educational
system that rewards those who are shall we say first to the market as those who are last.
Your suggested grading practices as described earlier are the antithesis of what is being
called for. Apart from the fact that the Fraser Institute has no credibility I do not
understand the point you are making here

As for my 'outdated and dubious beliefs' the proof is as they say 'in the pudding’; that is,
the failure of your suggestions to be accepted by most students, parents and teachers,
boards, nations and more.
I have no idea about “most” students, parents and teachers, boards, nations but I do know
that many schools and school boards, including two of the best private schools in Canada,
have had great success implementing assessment and grading for learning.

Thank you for the reading suggestion. I welcome any book that makes use of 50 years of
behavioral science as a foundation for recommendations. In return, may I suggest that
you have a look at the recent Canadian book What's Wrong With Our Schools and How to
Fix Them. There is a very interesting chapter on assessment and evaluation. Thanks for
the suggestion. I will look for it at my local Chapters store but I question the credibility of
any book that comes from a conservative and libertarian think tank.


Jim Russell's
Comment

2010-07-21

My question would be: how long do you sit and watch the utter failure of these unproven ideas before you admit that they are totally out of touch with what motivates teenagers?


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2010-07-21

I know many teachers who are using these and other ideas that promote intrinsic motivation
who would disagree with you completely. For example. I just heard from a high school in
Tennessee that has instituted assessment and grading for learning and it has seen a dramatic
reduction in discipline incidents and an increase in the graduation rate.


Roger Curtis's
Comment

2010-07-23

Perhaps the best test of an effective law, policy or practice is its strict enforcement. The
results? This is difficult to measure isn't it as so many boards in Ontario chose to have
nothing to do with not giving zeros and the use of similar practices. You see, they new
better. As for my board, they decided that everyone would benefit from what you
advocated. This, too, has produced a long list of head-scratching parents, frustrated
teachers and willing students who would gladly speak to senior administration and board
members about the absurdity of such practices. Now add to this the efforts around the
world--such as Texas--to stop the practice of not giving zeros and something should
ring a warning bell.

The connection to productivity? Considering that the Fraser institute has concluded that
Canada needs an 'institutional framework that rewards individual effort and
entrepreneurial activity' you can see how this would be hampered by an educational
system that rewards those who are shall we say first to the market as those who are last.
Your suggested grading practices as described earlier are the antithesis of what is being
called for. Add to this the 'Contingency Theory' and you have a recipe for lower
expectations and results both in and out of school.

As for University upheaval, I won't reiterate the views of, among others, the authors of
Ivory Tower Blues but would recommend it as good reading. The facts will undoubtedly
speak for themselves.

While the number of countries in the world is still a matter of some debate, let's use the
number 194. So, 12 countries would suggest less than 10 percent of the total number as
being interested. This, dare I say, is hardly a glowing endorsement. Rather why don't we
see what the top performing PISA test nations employ for assessment and evaluation
policies. Surely the whole world would sit up, take notice and beat a path to your door if
your suggested trail to success (my words) had any silver-bullet potential.

Better yet, why don't we do some real science and compare various practices for
measuring student success in the form of a controlled experiment? Perhaps then the facts
would speak for themselves.

As for my 'outdated and dubious beliefs' the proof is as they say 'in the pudding';that is,
the failure of your suggestions to be accepted by most students, parents and teachers,
boards, nations and more.

Thank you for the reading suggestion. I welcome any book that makes use of 50 years of
behavioral science as a foundation for recommendations. In return, may I suggest that
you have a look at the recent Canadian book What's Wrong With Our Schools and How to
Fix Them. There is a very interesting chapter on assessment and evaluation.

Sincerely,

Roger Curtis


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2010-08-15

"so many boards in Ontario chose to have nothing to do with not giving zeros and the use
of similar practices."

I do not know how many Boards in Ontario are continuing to allow zeros but I do know
that banning zeros is not an absurd practice – it is mathematically correct but the real
culprit is the percentage system. What really needs to be done is to switch from the
percentage system to a level system, preferably with 4 to 7 levels. It is important to note
that the two most highly regarded high school programs in the world – AP and IB – only
use levels (5 and 7 respectively).

“Now add to this the efforts around the world--such as Texas--to stop the practice of not
giving zeros and something should ring a warning bell.”

A misguided senator led the effort in Texas and it is now being challenged legally by a
coalition of nine school districts who recognize the absurdity of the zero in a percentage
system.


“Your suggested grading practices as described earlier are the antithesis of what is being
called for.”

Apart from the fact that the Fraser Institute has no credibility in Ontario I do not
understand the point you are making here.

“Add to this the 'Contingency Theory' and you have a recipe for lower expectations and
results both in and out of school.”

What is the ‘contingency theory?’

“Rather why don't we see what the top performing PISA test nations employ for assessment
and evaluation policies.”

Finland is one of the top PISA nations and assessment for learning is one of the factors
that has contributed significantly to it’s high level performance.

“As for my 'outdated and dubious beliefs' the proof is as they say 'in the pudding';that is,
the failure of your suggestions to be accepted by most students, parents and teachers,
boards, nations and more.”

I have no idea about “most” students, parents and teachers, boards, nations but I do know
that many schools and school boards, including two of the best private schools in Canada,
have had great success implementing assessment and grading for learning.

Thank you for the reading suggestion. I welcome any book that makes use of 50 years of
behavioral science as a foundation for recommendations. In return, may I suggest that
you have a look at the recent Canadian book What's Wrong With Our Schools and How to
Fix Them. There is a very interesting chapter on assessment and evaluation.

I will look for it at my local Chapters store but I question the credibility of _any book that
comes from a conservative and libertarian think tank.




Roger Curtis's
Comment

2010-08-22

Some additional dialogue for your consideration. A misguided senator led the effort in
Texas and it is now being challenged legally by a
coalition of nine school districts who recognize the absurdity of the zero in a percentage
system. No doubt, but this is reminiscint of Ronald Reagan's promise to withhold funds for
road repair from those states that didn't comply with the new speed limits. Today the
same holds true for those school boards that don't improve their test scores. As for being
misguided, well, strong words but you may be in the same boat as the Ontario Minister of
Education has returned the issue of grading to teacher's and their professional judgement.
Is this too a source of likely inconsistent results? Sadly yes but you can count on a return
to a better way.

What is contingency theory? Psychologists refers to the connection between what one
actually does and the results received, earned or accrued as Contingency Theory. The
reality of life--which should not be viewed as a separate entity with separate expectations,
rules and results that differ from other aspects of the world for choosing to do so violates
what for most boards is the second most important business of education namely an
effective socialization of children--manifests Contingency Theory.

“Your suggested grading practices as described earlier are the antithesis of what is being
called for.” What's being called for in education is more meaningful results as measured by
performance not Bs, As, etc.

As for your comment that boards 'have had great success implementing assessment and
grading for learning' I don't doubt this as long as it is in reference to your suggestions;
however, that most assuredly has not led to better learners, a more learned population or
harder working kids.

'I will look for it at my local Chapters store but I question the credibility of _any book that
comes from a conservative and libertarian think tank.' I have passed your comments on to
the authors.

Regarding the Fraser Institute, I believe you're mistaken. Just ask them how popular their
school reports are. Better yet, watch what the Globe and other papers have to say on the
subject when results are published.


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2010-09-01

What's being called for in education is more meaningful results as measured by performance not Bs, As, etc.
I agree, which is why we need to eliminate the percentage system and clearly separate achievement from behaviours.

As for your comment that boards 'have had great success implementing assessment and grading for learning' I don't doubt this as long as it is in reference to your suggestions; however, that most assuredly has not led to better learners, a more learned population or harder working kids. It most assuredly does lead to better learners and I have correspondence from many teachers that attest to this. As one example I would suggest you read Appendix H in the third edition of "How to Grade for Learning," which is a testimonial by a high school English teacher from Alberta about the positive impact of grading for learning on her students.


Regarding the Fraser Institute, I believe you're mistaken. Just ask them how popular their school reports are. Better yet, watch what the Globe and other papers have to say on the subject when results are published. My understanding is that their reports are still taken seriously in Alberta and BC but they were laughed out of Ontario many years ago when their first report on Ontario schools contained so many errors that few people have taken them seriously since then.

 

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