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Dear Ken,

"There is a literacy issue at the (school board) administration level." This comment prefaced her message regarding the current state of assessment and evaluation in the province. As we speak, the Minister has ordered every board to submit its A & E document yet again for scrutiny.

In a personal discussion with this writer, the Minister responded to my message of disgruntlement that many teachers feel in our board owing to the cumbersome and non-spirit-compliant pyramid of intervention that has the net effect of frustrating the role of the teacher when it comes to determining the best course of action for students who hand in material late or not at all with a promise that "teachers will decide what teachers do."

My question is, given the Minister's continued abatement of the policies you have advocated can you supply me with empirical evidence that supports your point of view? And I do not mean mere 'references' to fellow employees (Stiggens), philosophy, or why formative assessment is good and other pontifications; rather, peer-reviewed, scientific journal sources that has compared what you advocate and its alternatives. In the meantime, Ontario's 'new direction' striks me as a fine example of the facts speaking for themselves.

Sincerely,

Roger Curtis

2011-03-17
Roger Curtis
 

The
Grade
Doctor
says:

I do not believe that the Minister has abated policies that I advocate. Using penalties for late
work is SEVENTEENTH in a list of SEVENTEEN. The message is clear - use them as a last resort
when all else has failed. In terms of evidence see the teacher vignette for fix two in the
second edition of my "A Repair Kit for Grading" pages 28-30.

 

Roger Curtis's
Comment

2011-04-07

In fact, using a late-mark penalty is NOT the last of 17 options and never has been unless
a Board chose to order their employees to comply with its wishes. The Ministry may have
hoped that that this would be the case but still left it up to the 'professional judgement' of
the teacher. Clearly many boards chose to decide for the teacher in place of the former
option. As a result of this non-sensical, circumvential and likely illegal activity the Minister
has criticized Boards and ordered a recall of their A & E policies.

I will have a look at your single reference to my request for scientific evidence
which supports your position; however, I am disappointed that you haven't simply given me
your sources.

Sincerely,

Roger Curtis


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2011-04-07

Roger, the use of penalties IS SEVENTEENTH out of 17 strategies in "Growing Success."

"As a result of this non-sensical, circumvential and likely illegal activity the Minister
has criticized Boards and ordered a recall of their A & E policies."
I do not understand this sentence - what are you trying to say?


"I will have a look at your single reference to my request for scientific evidence
which supports your position; however, I am disappointed that you haven't simply given me
your sources."
You did not ask for scientific evidence so I provided a reference with several practical examples from one of my books. You obviously have an unscientific and outdated understanding of motivation. If you want the scientific evidence I suggest you read "Drive" by Daniel Pink. He says schools - and businesses - operate in contradiction of what science knows with regard to motivation.


Roger Curtis's
Comment

2011-04-07

Ken,

I have the third edition of 15 Fixes. Could you tell me where I can find the reference you
have mentioned?

Roger Curtis


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2011-04-07

There are only two editions of the Repair Kit. I referenced the teacher vignette for Fix 2 from pages 28-30.


Roger Curtis's
Comment

2011-04-08

Dear Ken,

The Minister has assured me that placing 'late mark penalties last' in Growing Success
represented a wish and was not to be interpreted as a specific order. Sadly, however, this
is indicative of the wishy-washy nature of Growing Success: 'here's a list, use your
professional judgement but we hope you won't use mark penalties unless everything else
fails.' It was the creation of pyramids of intervention that placed late-mark penalties as a
last-resort that has led to a 'recall' of Ontario boards' A & E policy. It wasn't meant to be
canon. Hence, my statement/comment: "As a result of this non-sensical, circumvential
and likely illegal activity the Minister has criticized Boards and ordered a recall of their A &
E policies." In other words, insisting teachers use late-mark penalties as a last resort was
NOT the intention of Growing Success; rather a mere wish and second to a teacher's use of
professional judgement. Do you not think teachers are the best ones to make such a call?

Regarding your Fixes book, I stand corrected. Still, I did ask you for empirical evidence
regarding what you advocate and, what should I call it--the old fashioned way(?): 'My
question is, given the Minister's continued abatement of the policies you have advocated
can you supply me with empirical evidence that supports your point of view?' I believe the
reasonable person would say you avoided the question. (See post from 2011-03-17.) And
while I admire Daniel Pinks writings this does NOT constitute empirical evidence to support
not using late-mark penalties, etc. Again, you may wish to consult the seminal work on
the subject of internal motivation I referenced in the electronic presentation I sent you
some time ago.

Sincerely,

Roger Curtis


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2011-04-09

I agree with you that "Growing Success" is 'wishy-washy' but I suspect that we have different reasons. I think it is a disappointing and deeply flawed document because of the following:
- no elimination of the use of percentages;
- Incomplete only for grade 9 and 10;
- no requirement to report on strands or expectations except for three elementary subjects; and
- failure to include subject-by-subject reporting of learning skills for grades 7 and 8.

Despite what you say what the Minister says there has to be significance to penalties being placed last in a list of seventeen.

I am not sure what you would consider empirical evidence because I believe I provided it.
Your continued misguided support for penalties shows that you have an outdated understanding of motivation. You say you like Pink's writing- well he summarizes the seminal work on motivation and says that schools (and businesses) ignore what science knows about motivation and that is that we should maximize intrinsic motivation and minimize extrinsic motivation.


Matt Slocomb's
Comment

2011-04-12

I think part of what Roger is asking here is for a peer reviewed study where a school
district adopted your grading practices and it led to increases in student performance. I
know in the US, there is and has been a huge push for "Data Driven" decision making.
While any data set has flaws, virtually any reform needs to be supported by some type of
data. So, what I would like (and I think Roger as well) is a reference to an article in a peer-
reviewed journal of education, educational practices, educational psychology, etc... which
shows how a district or school implemented your methods and then performed better on
standardized testing. Has there been a study done on this? I looked and couldn't find
anything...


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2011-05-27

I also know of no such studies. All I have is anecdotal evidence from hundreds of teachers. I am not a researcher so I hope someone will do appropriate studies soon.

 

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