No more A’s and B’s on report cards: Greater clarity or greater confusion?

report_cardsMy school system is piloting  rubric-driven report cards. The general response from the dozen or so parents I have talked to this week about them has been,  “I have no idea how my child is really doing.”

Rubrics reduce the skills and concepts taught in a class into smaller and more precise components that are supposed to be easier to evaluate.

On a rubrics report card, English, for example, is broken down into content, organization and style and language usage, each of which is assigned a numeric value. In math, the components are knowledge and understanding, investigating patterns, communications and reflection.

As a mother told me, her son was an A student in elementary school, but the rubrics suggest that he is now a C student or  worse. But when she e-mailed the teachers, they assured her that her son was doing well.

In reading about rubrics for several hours this morning, I found that many school systems still provide letter grades with the rubrics because parents want them. I can understand why. They are familiar, they are simple and they can be understood without a three-page handout.

I understand the limits of the traditional A, B, C and D grading as it doesn’t communicate the standards being met. Using baseball as a comparison, is an A performance the pitcher for the Atlanta Braves or the one from the local high school team?

But we have gone from overly simplistic to overly complex. And there are no narratives on these report cards, no comments from the teachers in plain English saying that while Johnny needs work on sentence structure, he’s doing well in organization of ideas and is creative in his topics.

I know why there are no comments. It would probably take 24 hours for teachers to append written comments for every student in a single class, and these teachers have multiple sections.

As a writer, I am not sure that the question children should be asking in their writing is whether they met the rubrics, but whether their piece worked. The most affecting piece of writing may be the one that violates the organizational rubrics. (I once interviewed a teacher — whose students led the nation in verbal SAT scores for years — who had studied the top-scoring SAT writing samples. He found that the best essays often violated the standard rules of writing.)

I also wonder how much rubrics are open to interpretation by teachers and how much easier they really make grading.

Are we replacing one subjective measure for another, and creating a lot of unnecessary confusion in the process?

Alfie Kohn wrote a good critique of writing rubrics, suggesting that they do not improve student performance:

Studies have shown that too much attention to the quality of one’s performance is associated with more superficial thinking, less interest in whatever one is doing, less perseverance in the face of failure, and a tendency to attribute the outcome to innate ability and other factors thought to be beyond one’s control.  To that extent, more detailed and frequent evaluations of a student’s accomplishments may be downright counterproductive.  As one sixth grader put it, “The whole time I’m writing, I’m not thinking about what I’m saying or how I’m saying it.  I’m worried about what grade the teacher will give me, even if she’s handed out a rubric.  I’m more focused on being correct than on being honest in my writing.”  In many cases, the word even in that second sentence might be replaced with especially. But, in this respect at least, rubrics aren’t uniquely destructive.  Any form of assessment that encourages students to keep asking, “How am I doing?” is likely to change how they look at themselves and at what they’re learning, usually for the worse.

What all this means is that improving the design of rubrics, or inventing our own, won’t solve the problem because the problem is inherent to the very idea of rubrics and the goals they serve.   This is a theme sounded by Maja Wilson in her extraordinary new book, Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment.  In boiling “a messy process down to 4-6 rows of nice, neat, organized little boxes,” she argues, assessment is “stripped of the complexity that breathes life into good writing.”  High scores on a list of criteria for excellence in essay writing do not mean that the essay is any good because quality is more than the sum of its rubricized parts.  To think about quality, Wilson argues, “we need to look to the piece of writing itself to suggest its own evaluative criteria” – a truly radical and provocative suggestion.

Wilson also makes the devastating observation that a relatively recent “shift in writing pedagogy has not translated into a shift in writing assessment.”  Teachers are given much more sophisticated and progressive guidance nowadays about how to teach writing but are still told to pigeonhole the results, to quantify what can’t really be quantified.  Thus, the dilemma:  Either our instruction and our assessment remain “out of synch” or the instruction gets worse in order that students’ writing can be easily judged with the help of rubrics.

Again, this is not a matter of an imperfect technique.  In fact, when the how’s of assessment preoccupy us, they tend to chase the why’s back into the shadows.  So let’s shine a light over there and ask:  What’s our reason for trying to evaluate the quality of students’ efforts?  It matters whether the objective is to (1) rank kids against one another, (2) provide an extrinsic inducement for them to try harder, or (3) offer feedback that will help them become more adept at, and excited about, what they’re doing.  Devising more efficient rating techniques – and imparting a scientific luster to those ratings – may make it even easier to avoid asking this question.  In any case, it’s certainly not going to shift our rationale away from (1) or (2) and toward (3).

Neither we nor our assessment strategies can be simultaneously devoted to helping all students improve and to sorting them into winners and losers.  That’s why we have to do more than reconsider rubrics.  We have to reassess the whole enterprise of assessment, the goal being to make sure it’s consistent with the reason we decided to go into teaching in the first place.

56 comments Add your comment


September 24th, 2010
2:44 pm

Isnt school about memorizing and dumping on a test. Thats how most college degrees are earned.


September 24th, 2010
2:48 pm

Let’s please stick to the 3 R’s:
1) Reading
2) wRiting
3) aRithmatic

A, B, C, D, F

We need more discipline in schools.


September 24th, 2010
2:53 pm

I have a teacher friend in another state who has begun to use these rubric report cards. She teaches at a school where most of the population is lower-moddle class.

The parents *hate* the rubric-based report cards because they have no idea how to read them. Many of the parents are/were teenage parents and most are less educated than average. My friend hates them because she spends more time filling our report cards than lesson planning for her 1st graders. And I know she’s a good teacher who uses time efficiently because I’ve seen her teach, and I’ve seen her working at home when we were roommates. She’s been teaching for ten years. If these rubric-based report cards are a huge project for her, what about new teachers, who already have so much to plan, create, and manage?

Texas Pete

September 24th, 2010
3:03 pm

Was the “C student” comment taken out of context? What led the parent to believe her child was a C student if the traditional A-B-C-D-F grading system was not in use? My child has been in 2 school systems, the first used a 3-2-1 rubric grading system and the other the traditional ABCs. Earning a “2″ in the first didn’t equal a “C” in the second.

This topic reminds me a lot of employee reviews at work. If a scale of 1-5 is used and the baseline of 3 is defined as an employee who fulfills the job requirements of his/her position for the topic being evaluated, many automatically felt that meant they were graded as a “C” employee even though the scaled clearly says a “3″ is doing exactly what the job asks to be done.

The ABC grading system is a measure of how frequenty the student gets answers right in a subject. The only complexity to it is that when a question gets answered can be weighted (test answers generally weigh more than homework answers). Just because one student gets 90% and another gets 85% doesn’t mean that the first student is better at the subject. To counter your sports analogy, if Batter A has a .321 batting average that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s better than Batter B with a .287 batting average. Batting average doesn’t tell you that Batter A has 3 HRs, 45 RBI and a .340 OBA (on base average) while Batter B might have 60 HR, 140 RBI and a .450 OBA.

All I’m saying is while the rubric system might be more complicated, parents need to adjust to it and not force the ABC concept to wrap around it when reading report cards. Talking to the teacher is definately the way to go if there’s any doubt.

Almost the weekend!

September 24th, 2010
3:09 pm

Henry County schools have started to do this, at least for the lower grades. It’s ridiculous. I have no idea what she is doing or how she is well she is doing it. I spent most of last year wondering if she would make it to third. Oh wait, now it’s promoted or placed in the next grade level. It’s beyond ridiculous.

What's Best for Kids?

September 24th, 2010
3:11 pm

And the pendulum will swing away from this, too.

Bruce Kendall

September 24th, 2010
3:13 pm

As a parent this seems to be more Misleading Educational Spin Doctoring (MESD).

Example of more misleading reporting from the GADOE.

Lets look at the 2010 CRCT. 800 is the scaled score used to indicate the “Just meeting standards,” for each test. The first grade reading cut point for “Just meeting standards” was 21 correct answers from 40 questions or parts.

What does 800 really mean?

Lets do the math: divide 21 correct answers (cut point), by 40 questions or parts, equals 53%. The 53 is the same grade a teacher would write on a test paper, or a classroom grade. 53 has just become the new 70.

Moreover, I am versed on the theta estimates used to set the cut points. Just because I am just a parent does not mean that I am stupid.

Most parents do not have a clue.

Bruce Kendall

September 24th, 2010
3:15 pm

Enter your comments here


September 24th, 2010
3:15 pm

I don’t think I would be opposed to some other form of evaluating learning than the A,B,Cs. Way too many moms and students see themselves as A students and the dirty little secret is they all aren’t. I have students that tell me they have to make an A in my physics class and I say don’t worry about the grade; learn the material. So many are so unaccustomed to thinking for themselves that few will actually make an A in the class. Then mama comes calling to let me know their student is an A student. So I would welcome an alternative system.

Bruce Kendall

September 24th, 2010
3:15 pm

I do write better when I am not pressed for time and frustrated.


September 24th, 2010
3:20 pm

Ugh. Your comments about writing, in particular, are dead-on and exactly the reason why nonsense like this doesn’t work. Instead of teaching what they know best, teachers are forced to spend their time rating kids on unclear meaningless criteria and prepping them for cookie-cutter tests that teach which box to tick, not how to THINK and solve problems. Somebody out there is trying REALLY hard to destroy our public schools by taking out all semblance of authentic learning and boiling it all down to a common fuming pile of uselessness. I smell politicians and bureaucrats. Ew.

David Sims

September 24th, 2010
3:21 pm

“(I once interviewed a teacher — whose students led the nation in verbal SAT scores for years — who had studied the top-scoring SAT writing samples. He found that the best essays often violated the standard rules of writing.)”

That’s right. But knowing when it is better to break the rules, and how to break them, is where the skill and good judgment is. Joseph Sobran used to do it well.


September 24th, 2010
3:23 pm

For decades, a simple grading system sufficed:

A = 90 – 100; Excellent
B = 80 – 89; Above Average
C = 70 – 79; Average
D = 60 – 69; Below Average
F = <60; Failing

Very simple and to the point. Then a strange thing began. The politically correct social engineers deemed that ALL kids can be taught and there were no failures. They began dropping the F's. Then, they decided that there were no Below Average kids and began dropping the D's. Grade inflation became rampant and they began moving the cut off points around so no one could decipher the actual grades.

"Honor Graduates" now required remedial classes in college.

Now that the educrats screwed that grading system up, they want to implement a new fad system that even the mail order PHD's in central office can't explain.

Makes perfect sense to me…

Teacher Reader

September 24th, 2010
3:26 pm

I taught at a charter school that did this in another state. The report card was a list of the state standards. I kept a portfolio of work to show to parents to depict the rubric score the child earned. I found this a more accurate picture to parents of what a child did and did not know. Did it take more time to fill in report cards? Yes, but I had a teacher work day to do this, so it wasn’t really a big deal. I had to take work home to complete the report cards, but I have never had a full day anywhere else to work on report cards. Parents appreciated the knowledge and understanding of student strengths and areas of need. They also saw what the child was expected to learn and know by the end of the school year. The school that I worked for was made up of mostly students in lower socio-economic homes.


September 24th, 2010
3:34 pm

Can’t be wasting too much time telling parents how their child is doing can we?


September 24th, 2010
4:00 pm

Truth be told? this takes MORE time to do…and does break down every single thing that a student is supposed to learn.

So, your snarky comment couldn’t be more off-base if you TRIED.

The teachers aren’t thrilled either, for the record. They take forever to do, require even MORE assessing, and more documentation.

So, before you decide to slam the teachers for this a little of your own homework….:::eyeroll:::

Another teacher

September 24th, 2010
4:01 pm

From TeacherReader: Did it take more time to fill in report cards? Yes, but I had a teacher work day to do this, so it wasn’t really a big deal.

See – but there is the rub. My county is starting to implement these…but we also still have furlough days, so that we have almost no planning days to *plan*, let alone fill out report cards. You cannot take time and money away from teachers (or anyone) and expext more work and better results. That just doesn’t compute.

David Sims

September 24th, 2010
4:05 pm

I think that there ought to be, on every high school test, at least one question far above the students’ skill level. For example:

“On the day of the summer solstice, a person waits on the Earth’s equator until sunset, and at that moment he begins moving northward, remaining at sea level on the Earth’s surface, at a speed that will keep the sun on the horizon. The sun’s azimuth might change, but its elevation will remain zero. Find the necessary speed at the equator and that at 45° north latitude. Show your work.”

Solving that problem requires a knowledge of differential calculus, spherical trigonometry, and numerical integration. It isn’t likely that there are many high school students who are prepared to tackle it. But a question of that difficulty ought to appear on each high school tests, just to see how well each student makes the attempt. On this kind of question, the teacher would grade the quality of the effort more than the correctness of the answer.

Recently Retired SE GA Teacher

September 24th, 2010
4:26 pm

Our school system here has gone to standards based report cards for grades 1-3, and nobody likes them except for the administrator “downtown” who came up with this weird grading situation. The students don’t know how they are doing, the parents have no idea, and the teachers are going crazy trying to explain it all to the parents, mainly because they don’t have a clue either! We have P for in progress, M for meets, and E for exceeds. Now, the problem is there is no criteria which differentiates between M and E. What might be E for one teacher is M for another. Just because a child makes an 850 on the CRCT does not justify an E to me in that particular standard if they don’t correctly use the standard on a daily basis. Whew! I’m glad I retired….

David Sims

September 24th, 2010
4:38 pm

I wouldn’t mind having a job to think of such fiendish questions. Here’s another.

“For reasons unknown, the moon stops moving in an orbit around Earth. At time t=0, the moon is motionless with respect to the center of Earth. Ignoring all forces except the gravity between Earth and moon, how long will it take the moon to smack into the Earth?”

The usual freshman physics approximation, which assumes constant acceleration, won’t work to solve this problem. Someone who understands celestial mechanics well enough to use the Vis Viva equation can set up an integral that will result in the relevant amount of time. But solving that integral won’t be easy. Nope, that one’s a doozy.

UGA Student

September 24th, 2010
4:53 pm


Why load a question that was meant to be answered wrong? Tests are supposed to measure what the TEACHER HAS TAUGHT the student. These crazy questions you are throwing into our cyberspace, and your idea that seeing how they tackle the problem is what gets points, sounds more suited to a IQ or MENSA test. (Unless of course you are in an advanced calc or physics class)


September 24th, 2010
4:56 pm

If you were homeschooling your child you would know how well they were doing. If there were a free market in education and you paid for your own child’s education, you could purchase services from someone who delivered assessments of your child’s learning performance in a manner that met your customer requirements.

If you turn your child over to the government to raise and educate them through the mechanism of government schools you have little to complain about. You are not a comsumer. You are just another victim of socialism.

The choice for you as a parent is clear. You cannot continue to support this system if you care about the education of your child.


September 24th, 2010
5:20 pm

UGA Student,

It doesn’t suprise me that you went to UGA wth that type of comment. You think schools aren’t supposed to be challenging?

News flash: education is not about determining what the teacher has taught. It’s about challenging the student. If a student gets a 100% on a test, I believe that his teacher has failed to challenge him. Your UGA education is obviously serving you well. Good luck when you actually need to be able to think for yourself.

David Sims

September 24th, 2010
5:31 pm

UGA Student. Most of the questions on a high school math test WOULD be about the stuff the teacher taught. Only one (or at most a few) questions would be more suited to a senior college student. The purpose of including that question would be to estimate how well the high school student goes about trying to find a way to solve a problem that ought to be out of his depth. To see whether he attacked the problem rationally and validly. To see how far he gets before he realizes it’s too much for him. To discover what the student thinks he needs to learn before he will be in a position to find the question’s answers.


September 24th, 2010
5:57 pm

The pervasive problems in our educational system have little to nothing to do with how kids are graded. Messing with the grading system sure appears to be a waste of resources; taxpayer resources, which by definition means it’s likely to be to the net detriment of the kids.


September 24th, 2010
6:12 pm


This rubric way of teaching is adding to the confusion and I think they harm students. A student might have great “ideas” for their writing, but their “conventions” are so poor that a reader cannot easily understand the piece. We have been told that when evaluating a student’s writing, ideas are most important. This leads us to accept papers that are filled with errors. This is very sad. When I taught older students I told them that if they didn’t learn to write correctly (spelling, punctuation, grammar), their writing would never be taken seriously. I think this is a message kids need to hear. It’s what I heard as a child.

I suggest we go back to teaching grammar and English. And I mean diagraming sentences, and really learning how the English language works. It bothers me greatly that Cobb County has provided me with no resources for this. Everything I use to teach my students about sentence structure, parts of speech, and punctuation are from resources I have purchased. It has been this way for entire time I have been a teacher in Cobb County. What message does that send to teachers? I’m big on buying resources on my own, but many teachers can’t afford to spend a lot of money on these resources.

Every student can learn to write effectively. I don’t believe they are being taught to do so under the current system.

sped teacher bibb

September 24th, 2010
7:16 pm

No one’s got it so far. A lot retoric but not one of you have pointed out that rubrics are totally the opposite of objective.

Susan bird

September 24th, 2010
7:45 pm

Just let me know when i can pay a tutor to come and decipher it for me


September 24th, 2010
7:49 pm

Beyond ridiculous. But of course we know central office bigwhigs get paid 6 figure salaries to think up this stuff, while those in the trenches are buying school supplies for their classes.

MS Man

September 24th, 2010
7:53 pm

All grades are subjective. The numbers or the rubrics both equal whatever the evaluator makes them become. I think that the big question behind this debate is what do parents and kids want to know about the learning their child is doing? Are you happy as a parent knowing that your child has all 92s in every class without knowing the curriculum, how its taught, how the grades are collected or what the tests/assessments look like? Many well meaning parents check portals for grades and missing work, but never look at the work itself to see what their child is being asked to do. The rubrics or standards-based grading systems can help create understanding, but it takes a big effort by the schools and teachers to explain it to parents and students. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, asking teachers to be able to explain what they are teaching, why they using this tool or that to assess, and what the assessment tells them about Janine’s learning at that point in time. I don’t think that because its different than the way I did it that it should be dismissed out of hand. I think parents should spend more time in schools asking questions about the work being asked of their children and being worried about whether it is work that makes their kid think or not.


September 24th, 2010
8:54 pm

From many posts I have read online, there are many recent college graduates who can’t distinguish between ‘your and you’re’ and ‘their’ and ‘there’. Whats up with that. I think whats up is the teachers are so burdened down with extra work that they don’t get to actually teach the students who are going to be teachers. I learned correct grammar in HS before college. Now, apparently, the high schools aren’t even teaching the students correct grammar. Who thought the ‘no child left behind’ concept was a great thing wasn’t very brilliant. When I was in school, you either passed or you stayed behind and repeated the grade until you got it right. Is that such a difficult concept? You can be assured that if that concept were to be put back in place, kids would certainly study and learn at least enough to pass. It worked for many generations and would work again. Para Pros are just a waste of education money. Take the burden of all the excess paperwork off the teachers and let them teach and give some of that money to the teachers in the form of a raise. Teachers are educators NOT pencil pushers who are there just to fill out forms to satisfy the government. However, I know that will never happen because its too logical and too simple.


September 24th, 2010
9:27 pm

The problem is , those who come up with this “procedural stuff” have no educational background that should drive any involvement in curriculum in the schools !!! It has gone from bad to worse and soon our schools will be only little less than prisons!!!

Ole Guy

September 24th, 2010
9:58 pm

Utilizing the rubric method of evaluation, it might be stated that the pilot executed a fantabulous takeoff; climbout and cruise were of equal quality. The acquision of approach signals went flawlessly; on final, the airplane, in fog, struck a mountain and created a big hole in the Earth. HOW CAN THE ENTIRE FLIGHT BE RATED AS ANYTHING BUT A FAILURE?

This overly complex method of student eval presents the very same fallacy. The teacher might utilize the rubric methodology as a personal tool in tracking students’ progress, strenghts and weaknesses. However, to mandate that the teacher evaluate each and every student in this manner would place undue demands upon the teacher’s limited time and resources. Furthermore, this would be simply another means of grade inflation:

Little Johnny got all the questions on the arithmetic tests
wrong…but (boy oh boy), he has great posture, says “yes sir,
no sir, three bags full, sir”, and never asks to utilize the
boys’ room during class.

According to the rubric, Johnny would receive glowing grades in deportment and focus. These grades, besides giving parents cause to smile, would mask the hard fact that their Little Johnny IS FAILING!

The teacher, and, by extension, the school system, should only be obliged to do one thing on report cards…provide a simple letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F. Let’s stop putin lipstick on the pig and face the cold hard truths…the kid’s either doing well or not doing well. The teacher and the kid are fully aware of the details…if the parents want to be appraised of the details, that’s why they invented parent-teacher conferences.

If the powers that be keep pissing around with teachers, imposing mounds upon mounds of additional administrative requirements, it will only be a matter of time before college kids cease to consider (what was once) a teaching profession.

A Concerned Parent

September 24th, 2010
10:12 pm

The whole Georgia Department of Education is Confused

Go get Michelle Rhee as the new GA Superintendent.

A Concerned Parent

September 24th, 2010
10:20 pm

The HS math is taught so face a student does not have time to think long enough to get in depth. One day students are working on statistics and the next day algebra and have the test on Friday. The curriculum is not made for learning just barely memorizing.

A Concerned Parent

September 24th, 2010
10:28 pm

As for English and Literature, Cobb County does not provide the education for writing. The Top 3 Cobb County schools utilizes many tools for teaching. Last year our school had vocabulary books, this year no vocabulary books. HS below the top 3 are wasting the 90 mins they have in class not teaching some parts of Grammar, Writing, and Comprehension. Oh, I guess writing journals about your household is more important than teaching proper grammar. I love it when CCSB brags on just passing the SATs or other test. We need to vote on a the new head of the CCSB. Letting the board make the decision of our children reminds me of the 10M spend on Astro Turf.


September 24th, 2010
10:45 pm

The question is about assessment; is the student learning the material and is that being effectively communicated to the parent? The problem with the traditional A, B,… system is that it no longer reflects an accurate achievement level within a class but a watered-down classroom with a great deal of grade inflation (think extra credit). It is an excellent system to convey student learning when it measures exactly what it is supposed to measure.

The standards based report card is a terrible idea. It uses the idea of either meeting a standard or not meeting a standard and calls it learning. Where I am the schools use the standards based report card for the lower grades and it is confusing. During the year you get “In-Progress” marks for most of the standards. What exactly does that mean? Is the child making enough progress to be promoted for the next year? If the child does not achieve mastery has the child learned anything at all? This is the question we have when we view our children’s report cards. Such useless confusion especially when there was a perfectly acceptable system in place before this nonsense reared its head.


September 25th, 2010
12:43 am

Georgia is a stupid state, an educational wasteland. Words cannot express how glad I am not to teach there and, even more so, how glad I am my child does not go to school there.

Teaching in Georgia sucks: goodbye and good riddance.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Crystal Beach, Bertromavich Reibold, Bertromavich Reibold, Alisa T. Jackson, Maureen Downey and others. Maureen Downey said: No more A’s and B’s on report cards: Greater clarity or greater confusion? [...]


September 25th, 2010
7:30 am

Those of you suggesting Michelle Rhee be part of education in Georgia are sadly uninformed about her background and accomplishments. She is the anti-union Chancellor of Schools in Washington, D.C. Last time I checked Georgia does not have teachers’ unions. She has very little teaching experience, but instead corporate experience working for Teach for America. She is utilizing corporate funds to influence the running of public schools. Isn’t this similar to what lobbyist and politicians do every day? Is this not similar to what a union does?

These standards based report cards are not real world. One poster referred to the CRCT earlier. The CRCT is a standards based assessment controlled by politicians. In an election year cut scores are set LOW so scores will tend to be high and politicians can brag about their accomplishments in the area of education. These scores are very deceptive to parents. If a student gets only 53% of the questions correct he has met standards. You and I both know it is going to take a lot more than 53% to ensure a child knows the information he needs to go on to the next grade. Most parents do not understand standards based report cards because they haven’t sat thru endless hours of brainwashing like educators. This type of grading is just one more part of the “we don’t want to hurt their feelings or they might drop out of school”. Along with this type of grading is the mentality that students should not have deadlines and should get endless opportunities to do work over. Personally, I don’t have a problem having my kid do work over until he gets it. At the same time I understand the importance of grades and so does my child. We work to get it right the first time and this “old fashioned grading” is part of my child’s motivation for working hard to make good grades. Sorry not everyone is motivated to perform in school. Ever think the problem is not with our grading or teaching, but instead with the value placed on education in the home. If a child brings home a low grade, as a parent or teacher question the child on why he missed the items. A low grade means the child needs extra time or extra help or it might mean he did not attempt to do the work to learn what was needed in the first place. This lack of motivation might stem from the fact parents don’t attend to their children or because kids have endless opportunities to do assignments over and over. There are a few kids that work to get it the first time and must sit around and wait on the slackers. These kids are being left behind.

The business world wants innovation, problem solvers and decision makers. Standardized tests do not promote these concepts. We must work to move the motivated students ahead if we want innovation, problem solving and decision making in the future. Sorry a few get left behind, but something has got to motivate them to get ahead. Our current methods are not motivating kids. If we want to promote these concepts we must give test that are not always aligned to the standards. Basically due to pressure from politicians, schools are teaching to the test. There is no innovation involved in teaching to test. Teachers are no longer allowed to share their expertise in a area due to the constraints of teaching a “COACH” book to prepare the kids for that all important test. Teaching to a test does not allow children to problem solve or make decisions, but instead teaches the to master one type of test. I don’t want an electrician that can only install one type of electrical panel. I want one that can tackle a variety of panels and situations.

Allow teachers to teach what they know. Bring in experts from the fields of math and science to help kids learn. I actually believe all educators need to spend sometime in the business world before teaching. Offer a diploma for students that know they want to go into a technical field and allow them to move on.

Finally, stop allowing students to make bad grades or tests and just move on to the next grade. Recently, I heard a school official talk about the number of students in the 9th grade that CANNOT read. Why have these kids gotten to the 9th grade not learning to read? Most would blame the teacher, but why are the parents refusing to let the child go forward until he learns? This has been allowed because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. If we retain them they might drop out. What have we done? What is the value of a high school diploma if students earning them cannot read or write? Why are honor graduates taking remedial courses in college? Are high school classes not difficult enough? Are we giving kids grades they do not deserve? Standards based grading does nothing more than put a band-aid on a bleeding wound. The scar will eventually form and we are left with a constant reminder of our boo boo.

Ole Guy

September 25th, 2010
8:38 am

Concerned Parent, I completely share in your anxiety on the short period of time in which kids are expected to ingest, absorb, and “spit out” complex mathematical concepts. However, you, and particularly your young student, might be well-served to consider that the fast pace at which complex issues must be processed isn’t about to abate any time soon.

I was/still am a slow learner. Concepts which, at first exposure, seemed entirely foreign, became, over time, quite clear. Unfortunately, for any number of reasons…good, bad, or indifferent…that luxury of time has been squeezed into near-extinction.

Viewing this demand in a positive light, the challenge of multi-tasking is quickly becoming/has become the operating tempo of the 21st century. Like it or not, it’s here to stay. While ole farts, like yours truly, have a hell of a time adapting, this challenge should be viewed as a training ground for the younger generations.

Will something be lost; the essence of real knowledge, in the transition from the “old ways of slow cooking” to the “micro wave methods of fast-food preparation” in passing on real knowledge? I truly think so. Rather then complain, however, perhaps we ought to accept that we’re gonna have to adapt or, as a civilization, die.


September 25th, 2010
10:47 am

This is probably coming from the same ppl that brought us CARBON trading.

@Ole Guy; you may want to use a different analogy; “slow cooking” has its rewards with some very tastey food. While “micro wave” could lead to only partly cooked and a texture that could not sustain a person.


September 25th, 2010
10:52 am

HMMMMM? could these “NEW” report cards lead to a child never failing? the report just shows that the student has deficiency in a subject and passed on? Remember we got to hit that 100% mark in 2014.

Very Concerned Parent in APS

September 25th, 2010
11:04 am

The context of a particular school or school system may be implementing this rubric grading system in attaining a strategic goal. My son’s school is doing just that as it is implementing the IB Programme. They are communicating very well with the parents to understand the “why” and “how” it’s being done. The equivalent traditional grade is also included so parents can understand how to translate the new rubric grading range.

I see it as indicative of a school or school system challenging itself in implementing research based best practices that the believe will be best for all students being served. I am extremely satisfied, as open communication is encouraged if ever parents have a question or concern..

The teacher’s are so committed, I am now off to pick up my child from Saturday tutoring that is offered.


September 25th, 2010
11:04 am

We’ve been told that all systems in GA will be converting to a “standards based” grading system. Notice I said we’ve been “told.’ No one has bothered to ask the teaching profession or the parents if they approve of this decision. Now, I’m not 100% sure if the first statement is right or wrong. My administrator has the uncanny ability of misinterpreting lots of info from the DOE.


September 25th, 2010
3:53 pm

For those concerned about the quality of writing samples vs grammatical structure, back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, we literally got two grades for each writing assignment. One was for content, the other for structure. I received several “A over F” marks until I figured out that the teacher was serious about run-on sentences and sentence fragments. :D

This grading form had the benefit of giving credit where it was due. If the essay was well-crafted from a content point of view, then you got a good grade on that portion. If you constantly botched the grammar, syntax, and spelling, then you received the appropriate F on that portion. Altogether, A over F averaged out to a C for points.

Hey Teacher

September 25th, 2010
6:12 pm

The best private schools in the area (such as Woodward, Pace, and Westminster) give specific, personal comments along with each grade. The class sizes (yes Sonny, they do make a difference) make it impossible for a public school teacher at the secondary level to give that kind of specific feedback for each student.

Ole Guy

September 25th, 2010
8:12 pm

Money, your reflection is exacty my point. The “old way”, as with many issues, is the only way. Force-feeding academic concepts, in “micro wave fashion”, is pure folly and, in absolutely no way, serves to prepare kids for life’s demands

high school teacher

September 26th, 2010
9:35 am

Personally, I think that rubrics have ruined writing instruction. I have reached the point that I no longer correct mistakes that the rubric doesn’t address; consequently, a student can get a good grade based on the rubric but still have a poorly written paper. Rubrics are very difficult to create, and unless it’s a wholistic rubric (SAT or AP essay), they do not reduce the amount of time spent grading each paper.


September 27th, 2010
12:55 am

I hear the complaints and the fond memories of the old days when the “one true way” was followed and everything smelled of roses. I’ve got my own rubric complaints, but I’m wondering if anyone can distance themselves from the vitrol long enough to give a rational explanation: why the “old way” was better?

Grades are a fine way to rank relative performance based on subjective standards of right and wrong. Grades say nothing about the relative difficulty of the subject matter. Grades rarely tell the difference between the student that applied themselves but struggled vs. the smart but lazy slacker. I recall students who picked professors based on their reputation for easy grades. And I’ve known professors that kept meticulous records of all test questions and student answers. -So they could craft tests which would result in a normal distribution of scores. I’ve known other teachers that had already given the grades before reading the papers. And yet other teachers that have dangled grades just out of reach in an attempt to get students to try harder. Grades can be arrived at and mean so many different things.

At least with rubrics aligned with GPS curriculum, there is a yardstick which requires teachers to focus on whether or not their students are mastering content. Aligning assessment with goals and objectives… -That sounds like an improvement. If the curriculum is lacking or the sequence of instruction is ordered poorly… -Then let’s talk about that and fix it. If the rubrics are overly simplistic or out of sync with best instructional practices… -Then let’s talk about that and fix it.

My gripe with rubrics, is that in the absence of pre-assessment, how can you measure progress? If a student is performing above grade level, how do you measure progress through a curriculum they’ve already mastered? If a student is below grade level in a subject, but making rapid progress, how do you report that?

Parents for the most part don’t care about rubrics aligned with curriculum standards. As a parent, I want to know if my child is making progress, a general idea of the breadth and depth of that progress, and if there are difficulties where?

I grades are an “almost failed”. Is that a C- or a D-? And Rubrics? Well, I suppose its progress. 2 sounds right… But will they pass muster?