Alfi, Alfie, Kansas discussed on The Munk Debates
Outside of the classroom. How maybe not only our particular student is doing. But how the students in our state or province are doing our how our country's doing versus another country and that we need grading as a way of ensuring that our educational systems are delivering on the bigger social priorities that we have mandated them to Achieve hopefully a successor around and in the absence of grades. There's an absence of an accountability and it becomes a free for all. What is your reply to that argument about the importance of grades in terms of the accountability of our educational systems. You know i've heard that argument. Made normally in the context of trying to justify standardized testing. And i have a response to that about why standardized tests are not good indicators and that there's also an important difference between showing that kids are learning well or schools are teaching well as opposed to that comparison that you slipped in there. How are we doing better than or compared to other states provinces countries districts which is not about quality and learning. It's about winning victory. But i have to be honest. I've never heard anybody tried to justify giving grades to individual students in terms of holding accountable teachers for how well they're doing overall. Since the great my kid gets tells you absolutely nothing about the overall quality of the school. So i don't even see how that argument florida's a believe that is would begin to justify the process of giving grades in terms of parents who want to know to make sure their kids are doing okay. That learning is taking place their own kids. That's where it becomes important now to look at alternatives to grades. And i think here's what stuff on thinking of utopian thought experiment. But here's what lots of great schools are doing now in place of giving any letters or numbers which turn out to provide a far richer and more informative sense to parents and to the kids themselves than a b. plus or an eighty seven Ever could the first way they do that is by offering narrative comments. Were teachers. describe in words what they've noticed going on and we're the improvement can happen the second way. That's even better is conferences or conversations with kansas with parents with kids and parents or best of all with kids and parents were. The kid is in charge of the session of revealing that possibly by showing examples of the assignments in a portfolio to indicate this process. The reason i believe the ladder conferences is superior to narratives is because a conference can in theory be a dialogue whereas narrative is still a monologue. Even though it's way better than reducing the kid to a letter or number so when those things are done in paris have the chance to experience being walked through. Exactly what's going on the parent. Realizes now i have more information with fewer disadvantages. Then when i'm merely got a report card that had a letter or a number on it. Thanks healthy so tom. What's your view. This i mean alfi's painting a picture here one that's probably compelling to a lot of frustration parents who feel that the grading system isn't in any way capturing the nuances the complexities of their child. It's like drying rich milkshake through a really really Thin straw. I mean to what extent are are you comfortable and if you're not give us a little more sense of y It wouldn't be the right thing. Just throw it all out and just moved to as as alfi's characterizing here kind of conversations conversations between parents teachers students you know. Make this into a socratic dialogue. Not an exercise in in quantification and qualification. But in this case i do agree with alfie. That the the notion of green serving as a mechanism for ability is i think a pretty weak argument. I really haven't seen that survive. But i do know it's related to a major concern. That parents students reflect when we do surveys. Suppose about the grading foss has that is. They're concerned about the terrible inconsistency. There is a grading policies and practices across features within the same school. As we've tried to understand why inconsistency exists we find. That often comes down to not being any clear notion to the purpose of grady. We'll even what what evidence would best reflect that purpose one of the major steps that we continue to press educators to take on as they look at greeting reform is be clear about their purpose to make that clear and then once that is cleared you can go back to your policies and practices and see whether they they do actually reflect that purpose and what you'll discover as many many don't doesn't i think it's in central us to keep in mind is that there's a long history behind us and actually why we came degrades when we first began looking at the way we reported student learning progress it was just as alpha just narrative reports in the early colonial days when there would be a single teacher purchased for hired for community that they wouldn't have a lot of money to pay the teachers so the community would make arrangements one the nights during the week the teacher would visited different family members and drake dinner than the teacher would talk about the progress students were making what success where they can make improvements he was all done so orally through these sorts of conversations they would have with parents home and continued for many many years and it wasn't until the middle eighteen hundreds where we started passing at our country mandatory swore -tendance policies that we had more more students finishing yellow metre great moving onto high school high schools increased rapidly during the country at that time and then the challenges of doing that became real. We started with doing narrative reports that became difficult for teachers as well. It was the practical constraints that made those hard. I know my very first experience in education was to serve as middle school teacher in the middle. I tie had five different classes of of different students each with over thirty students. So that would mean. I had basically more than one hundred fifty students per day. If i had just a five minute conversation with each of those students that would be twelve and a half hours class if reduced that to just two minutes of conversations maybe of transition. That's seven and a half hours of time. If you divide that across my my five classes that would mean taking an hour and a half per week it wanted to have those conversations that doesn't include the time that a teacher i would have to spend reviewing students were preparing for those conversations and helping students in preparing for this conversations as well. We came to grades because of the necessity of finding the best of a very difficult situation. How can we communicate effectively inefficiently how well students during his schools and make a practical experience for the teachers so granted graves are not a deal and grazed by themselves are not very helpful. A great on the top of a paper gives a kid no idea of what they've done well or how can improve they always have to be supplemented with other kinds of information provided kind of got into direction to students and then to those that are wanting to help students but the graded self though on your position or where your strengths. Weaknesses are committee an advantage in making.