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Students Are Always Half Right In Pittsburgh 881

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials have enacted a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying. If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester. The district and teachers union issued a joint memo to ensure staff members' compliance with the policy, which was already on the books but enforced only at some schools. At this rate, it won't be long before schools institute double extra credit Mondays and Fridays to ensure students don't take three day weekends.


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Students Are Always Half Right In Pittsburgh

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  • by Helios1182 ( 629010 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:28PM (#25130839)

    Or they could work on policies that reward significant improvement throughout the year. A rough start can be just that. Mandating that everything is at least 50%, even when a student gets a 0%, is a terrible idea.

    • by tekiegreg ( 674773 ) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:34PM (#25130877) Homepage Journal
      Really, I have no problem with a "lousy start" policy of some sort, but to guarantee 50% while other students are giving and earning 100% annoys me to no end. How about simply this, guarantee that all quizzes and tests can be made up after hours (before/after class) that were taken in the first half of the semester for a maximum score of 80% of the total points awarded (gotta at least give a small late bloomer penalty)? Higher of the 2 scores will apply. Thoughts there?
      • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:37PM (#25130909) Journal

        Cool, now if I'm really good in that subject (math comes to mind), I can just skip the entire first half of each semester and still get a B in the class!

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:47PM (#25130979)

          And maybe you should get exactly that? Seriously? Why the hell do bright students have to waste their time sitting on their ass while morons take all the teacher's attention?

          Starting from grade 8 or so, you should be able to challenge any course. If you know your stuff, then you know your stuff, and you could use your time to do something productive, like university prep, sports, or volunteering... Something that'd be much better for your life and career than wasting time with idiots.

        • Ever taken a math class... generally you can't skip the first half (fundamentals) and pass the second half (more advanced stuff). And while that might not motivate students to "be your best!", if the student is smart enough to pull that off... well I guess being smart does have benefits!
          • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:34AM (#25131365) Journal

            In my high school, there was a kid in the class that graduated the year before my class came in as freshman who only showed up to classes for quizes and tests all four years. He graduated with a B or B- average.

            After he graduated and it was brought to the attention of parents and school administrators, a new rule was put in place that any student absent from a class more than a certain number of days during the year (I think it was 20 or so) for any reason could (at the discretion of the teacher) be failed.

            Anyway, the point is, there are kids who'll use something like that to skate by while doing even less work. Those kids shouldn't be skipping school; they should be found out and set aside for advanced studies that can actually push them. Otherwise, we're giving up the notion that we're actually trying to teach anything and accepting that all we're looking for is some basic cookie-cutter standards for well-disciplined automotons.

            • by xero314 ( 722674 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:45AM (#25131449)

              Anyway, the point is, there are kids who'll use something like that to skate by while doing even less work.

              We call them "Executives."

            • by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:32AM (#25131879) Homepage
              If the kid can pass the class without being in it, why are we forcing them to take it anyway?
              • by tist ( 1086039 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @08:38AM (#25134289)

                If the kid can pass the class without being in it, why are we forcing them to take it anyway?

                The idea of our education system should be to make the smartest members of society that we can. It doesn't make any sense to have them take that class, they have already mastered it. It makes sense to have them take a more advanced class and keep them learning. The policy of letting them just skip it drives those kids back the the average rather than providing for them to excel.
                Obviously "No Child Left Behind" simply means "Lower the standards so everyone passes". The combination of these two policies just produces kids with ever less education.

            • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:56AM (#25132069)

              In my high school, there was a kid in the class that graduated the year before my class came in as freshman who only showed up to classes for quizes and tests all four years. He graduated with a B or B- average.

              That's not an example of a school failing to challenge a student. That's an example of a lazy student. Maybe he's a smart slacker, but at the end of the day, he's still just a slacker. What the hell does it matter if he's smart if he won't apply himself?

              As Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. You'll get much further in life being moderately smart and really hardworking, than extraordinarily brilliant but too lazy to do anything with your intelligence.

              • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:55AM (#25132367) Homepage

                But why should you work hard at school if you can get by like this? I know of no school that has the time and resources to challenge students like that one. If I were him I'd be somewhere else than at school too, working on problems that interest and challenge me. Who says this kid was doing nothing while not at school?

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by HungryHobo ( 1314109 )

                Imagine you were put in a classroom with a load of infants chanting basic sums "2 plus 2 is 4, 2 plus 3 is 5" etc.

                When there is no purpose in you being there how long before you get so sick of it that you stop turning up?

                That isn't lazyness. Lazyness is being unwilling to work. The "work" in this case is learing math and if he already knew all the material that well then it just means he did all the "work" long before everyone else.

                I hope to god you're not a teacher.

                I slept through most of my 1st year compu

            • by BarryJacobsen ( 526926 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @08:27AM (#25134189) Homepage

              they should be found out and set aside for advanced studies that can actually push them.

              As someone who's worked for a public school for the past year, I can definitively say that if there's one thing public schools are entirely unable to do it is detect and promote excellence. We're too busy leaving no child behind (and I assure almost all of the ones that would have been left behind WANTED to be left behind and are resentful (at least now, maybe when they grow up some they'll be thankful), and as sad as it is their parents would generally be perfectly fine with them being left behind, too). We're a society hell bent on having everyone be normal - whether that means dragging up the under performers by lowering our standards or neglecting those who would love some extra guidance - and it's absolutely shooting ourselves in the foot.

          • by WTF Chuck ( 1369665 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:56AM (#25131571) Journal

            On a good day I would half-ass pay attention in my math classes and never bothered doing homework unless it had serious potential for affecting my grades. All honors classes, all tests aced.

            This 50% minimum is bull shit any way you slice it. Sure, give the kids a chance to fix-up their fuck-ups by getting with the program and doing the work, although late, but don't give them grades better than the shitty one they earned. There are no breaks like that after they get to the real world, it will only hurt them later in life if they learn to expect them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Cool, now if I'm really good in that subject (math comes to mind), I can just skip the entire first half of each semester and still get a B in the class!

          Um, if you're that good at math, why would you settle for a B, and why wouldn't you deserve at least that high of a grade anyway, in recognition of your talent?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anpheus ( 908711 )

            Because to get an A requires something like ten times the investment in effort and no one after you get your first college admission will give a hoot?

          • by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:46AM (#25131985) Homepage Journal

            Um, if you're that good at math, why would you settle for a B, and why wouldn't you deserve at least that high of a grade anyway, in recognition of your talent?

            Because you value your time more? My experience (as a teacher) is that effort doubles between grades. So a D is twice as much effort to get as an F and a C is four times as much effort. I don't have a problem with some students recognizing that they don't want to spend lots of time on everything and making some cost/benefit decisions.

            -Grey [silverclipboard.com]

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Fumus ( 1258966 )
            Huh? I don't know about your country, but in Poland nobody actually cares if you got your degree with an A or barely got it. All that matters is if it's there, and from what university it is.
          • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:43AM (#25132951)

            Because he/she is smart enough to realize that grades matter exactly 0 after you get your first job anyway? Because he/she is smart enough to realize the field they intend to go into doesn't depend on having a A in math?

            There are plenty of reasons not to waste your time doing something and being 'good enough'. Thats why, although I can cook, I don't bake my own bread. I'm good enough at cooking for most of my needs and I have baked bread in the past, but I specialize in other things and let someone else make far better bread that I can buy for a price less than the cost of making it myself.

            But in reality, when I was in highschool, I did this exact same thing, IN honors classes. I did it because it was far more enjoyable for me to 'get by' and go half fun out side of school than it was to sit in some class listening to some teacher drone on about shit that he/she barely understands better than I do. I know its an odd concept, but kids are thinking about having fun and a social life, not their career. Well okay, the balanced kids are, there were kids who only cared about school work, had the best grades, all that stuff that makes you the most likely to be someone great. The valedictorian at my highschool went off to Yale, and returned less than a year later because she got knocked up by the first guy who looked at her. The salutatorian went to the University of Florida, only to be kicked out after the first semester because she became a total drunkard. They had absolutely flawless grades, but 0 social skills which resulted in the not lasting the first year, now last I heard they both live back in the town we grew up in, with several kids and basic, meaningless jobs. Theres more to succeeding in life than school.

      • by ebuck ( 585470 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:29AM (#25131859)
        Better yet. Make the grading percentile distribution more like:

        A - 100% - 81%
        B - 80% - 61%
        C - 60% - 41%
        D - 40% - 21%
        F - 20% - 0%

        At least then they will have coherency between letter grade and percentile of accomplishment. With their current distribution, they have no coherency because a student that performs 50% is equal to one that performs nothing.

        As far as the admitting colleges go, they will quickly draft their own plans to adjust for the new grading policy, probably relying even more so on the SAT and other measures to determine their admittance criteria. As far as the school is concerned they just doubled the number of "A" students, even if it was only done by lowering the bar for an A.

        If what they were suggesting was padding everyone's score by 50 percentage points, then it would be fair (if awkward). Instead what they are suggesting is padding the worst performer's score by 50 percentage points. In statistics, this would be called "cooking the books", and I'll bet they're cooking the books for more than just "a second chance, whenever the student tries to take it". I'll bet that the new point system is presented to performance boards as equal to those school systems that let a student hit dead bottom zero.

        If you want to provide a "second chance" to achieve, do what other institutions have done. Let the student take the course again, with the new grade replacing the old grade. It costs the student an elective and another four months of their life; that makes sure it won't be abused by the student body: time is precious. It maintains the current standard of the school because the course will likely be taught the same way.

        What they are doing is unconscionable from a statistics point of view; basically they are taking the numbers they don't like and changing them to 50. The "average" will likewise jump (even thought no corresponding jump in work will be performed). Kudos for them on learning how to lie with statistics. Shame on them for doing it by substituting undesirable values with those more palatable.
      • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @03:08AM (#25132437) Homepage Journal

        but to guarantee 50% while other students are giving and earning 100% annoys me to no end

        It's the students that are trying hard and only getting 60% that could be hurt by this.
        A 'free' 50% means their is little reward for their hard work and little incentive to continue putting in.

        I can certainly see that giving students an incentives not to give up is a good idea, but it's something that needs to be done carefully.

    • Yeah, this is really just a terrible idea. Mark the grades differently for quarters and allow children to do makeup work to bring a quarter up, a lot like they do with retaking classes in college.

      Seriously, don't the administrators see something's wrong when the retired Home Ec teacher is saying that they're being too easy on the kids? In my high school, home ec was the class you took when you wanted an easy A.
    • 1) This CSS template makes me want to claw my eyes out. I know I can avoid it. I'm merely mentioning this again, because it is so ugly.

      2) This is BS. It won't fly in college and it doesn't adequately prepare students for working even minimal responsibility jobs. Working in fast food requires a high degree of accuracy. Making half the burgers wrong will get you fired quickly.

      Let's see here. The majority of schools in the Pittsburgh public school system are accredited by Middle States Association of Col
    • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:51AM (#25132031)

      My sister used to teach at a well known private school in Melbourne (Australia). Her first semester there she had a number of the reports she wrote returned for rewriting. One in particular was bounced twice with the comment that you can't call a student's performance on a test as "disastrous". Her response was "What would you call 3%?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      Some teachers drop the lowest grade; I don't know if that's a great approach (depends on how many tests, I suppose), but perhaps you can retake the test with your lowest grade if you show improvement.

  • by iamhigh ( 1252742 ) * on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:30PM (#25130849)
    From TFA...

    "And she said one teacher she knows already worries about how awkward it will look when a student correctly answers three of 10 questions on a math quiz -- and gets a 50 percent."

    That's just preparation to work in the American financial sector.

    BTW, a decent idle story??? Idle still sucks and quote tag doesn't work???

    • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:37PM (#25130907)

      Well, if the student only got 3/10 correct, I wouldn't worry about them figuring out that their grade is off in any measurable way.

    • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:45PM (#25130955)
      I have a hard time figuring out how this qualifies as an idle story. This is a serious subject with potentially far reaching effects since bullshit policies like this tend to spread like wildfire by school boards who believe dumb kids can be loved into knowledge.

      Is it that they want us to suffer through a comment box that inhabits 10% of the page's width? Do they not like the quote tag? Is this a power struggle between samzenpus and the other editors?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:53PM (#25131011)

      You can't spell nochildleftbehind without "idle".

  • I KNEW IT!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eggplant62 ( 120514 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:32PM (#25130861)


    Yep, the Idiocracy is well on its way to becoming a reality. Let's not grade on a child's actual performance in school, let's make certain they can at least "catch up." Yep, way to go. This mollycoddle society just irks the living shit outta me.

    • Re:I KNEW IT!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:57PM (#25131045)
      The idea, and whether it works or not is debatable, is to not discourage kids from trying.

      In the old system, if you tank badly enough in the beginning you have to do extraordinarily well to get a passing grade.

      With rare exceptions, most kids who are going to get less than a 50% on something are never going to get the grades in the second semester that will give them a passing grade.

      They might be capable of improvement, and hard work may help them, but excluding certain exceptional cases(i.e. good student with something major going on in their life) which should be handled in other ways, they're not likely to get 100%.

      If you're going to fail anyway, then anyone who isn't a total idiot is going to realize that putting any sort of effort in whatsoever is a big fat waste of time. There's no reward for that effort.

      This system, and again, implementation may not give this result, is designed so that if a kid screws up the first half of the year, that they still have the opportunity to at least pass if they work hard and apply themselves.

      50% isn't a passing grade, so it's not like they're going to skim through, all it does is reduce the depth of a failing grade so that kids can pull themselves out of it.

      A good analogy would be being under 6 feet of water as opposed to 600. If you don't do something about it, you're still going to drown, but it's possible to swim to the surface.

      If implemented correctly, it could ensure that certain members of your "Idiocracy" actually learn something, and maybe improve their knowledge, this is a good thing.

      Of course that does't mean that this system might not be flawed(haven't read the details) or that it's implementation may not cause it to run counter to the intention, but the intention is good and has nothing to do with lowering standards or any sort of "idiocracy".

      When people have no hope of improving their lives, they don't try to improve them. You can't, and probably shouldn't, improve someones life for them, but you can give them a hand up so that when they do try to improve themselves(and I mean genuinely try) that they are rewarded for it.

      • Re:I KNEW IT!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:05AM (#25131131)

        The solution to kids falling behind is to de-emphasize social promotion, not to give them more chances to keep up.

        Also, I'm pretty sure that making it harder to fail is pretty much exactly the same thing as making it easier to pass.

      • Re:I KNEW IT!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:26AM (#25131291) Journal

        In the old system, if you
        tank badly enough in the
        beginning you have to do
        extraordinarily well to get a
        passing grade.

        Wouldn't it make more
        sense to weight the tests
        and assignments so that
        the early assignments
        wouldn't have as big an

      • Re:I KNEW IT!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:34AM (#25131357) Homepage

        With rare exceptions, most kids who are going to get less than a 50% on something are never going to get the grades in the second semester that will give them a passing grade.

        Most students who get less than a 50% don't deserve a passing grade. A for effort is bullshit - if you don't know the material, you shouldn't pass the class.

        Maybe it'll help a few people who got a rough start. It'll also allow anyone of even moderate intelligence to coast right through every class. This mentality of doing something that helps a few while creating a massive loophole for everyone else (see: no child left behind) serves no purpose but to accelerate the growth of stupidity. It certainly wouldn't be much of a stretch to call it a government conspiracy (as an educated populace is far harder to swindle and control), especially given what else we've seen happen as a result of this administration.

  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:35PM (#25130883)
    Let me warn all of you right now, if you do not live in Pennsylvania and you have any thought that it's a state that you would like to try to lead a productive life in, especially the south-western corner, please abandon those thoughts. Pennsylvania is a black hole of taxation and asshattery. Our governor isn't worthy to hold the position of a used cars salesman and the city of Pittsburgh is a financial and logistical burden for anyone who lives anywhere close to it.

    Not to even get into the fact that Dan Onorato and Luke Ravenstahl are both self-serving bitches.
  • Great Life Lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) * on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:35PM (#25130893) Journal

    District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying.

    Yes of course, and while we're at it, let's make it the law that everyone gets at least $50k/year, whether they actually work or not. That way we all get a "chance to catch up" and a "reason to keep trying".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:55PM (#25131029)

      All I can think of is the rant Pixar inserted in to the Incredibles between the parents. Praising mediocrity and condemning truly exceptional people in the process is exactly how this country has gotten as fucked up as it is.

      Brilliant minds are not needed for success! Don't worry! You can be amazing without ANY reason! Just because you were born in the USA, you have the not only the right, but the ENTITLEMENT to be rich, successful, and pampered!

  • by Troy ( 3118 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:36PM (#25130895)

    If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester.

    There isn't a teacher out there who wouldn't pull the 20% kid aside and say "Look. You bombed. But, over next quarter/semester, if you do all/most of your homework and manage to get a C/B/whatever, I'll pass you."

    My school district is looking at a similar policy, and I'm not happy with it. I don't mind putting a "floor" under students in freefall (especially when there are out-of-school forces in play), but its something that you do on a case-by-case basis according to the needs of the student.

    If a district's teachers are not looking out for their kids this way, you have a deeper problem than a grading policy.

    • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:07AM (#25131147) Journal

      If a district's teachers are not looking out for their kids this way, you have a deeper problem than a grading policy

      Yes, I think this indicates a teacher problem more than a school policy problem.

      If bad teachers are the problem, then good teachers are the solution, however, so many bungled ideas about how to attract quality professionals to education have made it impossible to attract quality applicants in many, many districts across the country (here in Indiana it's worse than the national trend)

      If you want quality professional teachers who know when to "pull a kid aside" and give them some targeted help to pass a class, then you have TO PAY THEM.

      Why would a quality teacher leave the serenity of the university town they lived in for school and go to some backwards dysfunctional derelict school district for half the pay as they could get at a functioning district?

      The only solution is to have a national teacher's minimum wage, subsidized by the Fed. Gov't if necessary (some red states would rather pardon child murderers than raise teacher salaries).

      Anyone who disagrees needs to think hard about what teachers are asked to do in today's america. They are expected to do so much but paid like unionized factory workers.

      $50,000 is a good starting figure. You could pay for it by ditching NCLB and all the wasteful bureaucracy that it created.

      Fed, state, and local gov't wastes millions on ineffective programs that try to do systematically what a good teacher will do intuitively.

      For the record, IANAT...I used to be until I realized I was carrying the burden of absent parents and ignorant policy makers.

  • by arcade ( 16638 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:38PM (#25130915) Homepage

    This indicates a broken grading system with a bad kludge of a hack on top.

    If someone gets 5% at first half, and then majorly improves during the second half and gets 80% - and would easily be able to redo the tests of the first half and get 80% on them too at this time -- then of course the final grade should be around 80% - and the first grading should be ignored completely.

    It's the actual knowledge at the end of the semester that should be graded - not the performance throughout the year. It's the knowledge one possesses at the end that is important.


    Broken sysem with a bad hack .

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) *

      As much as it would be nice for learning to matter, from an real-world standpoint doing the work is more important. Regardless of level of knowledge, I want someone coming out of an academic institution to have a GPA reflective of their professional dedication, not their ability to slack off for a year and cram it all in in one night. I don't care what you know, I only care how hard you'll work. If you're willing to work, it's easy to learn.

      This is a frightening stopgap to a rising lack of work ethic in thi

  • The goal here is to avoid reducing the difficulty of tests. At my school, some teachers would have each test count more than preceding ones so that you could recover from an early failure, and also drop the worst (weight*score)* test to prevent one later bomb from killing you. I found it increased the incentive without making it feel hopeless.

    Some teachers would let you retake a test (not same questions obviously) and average the scores together. At the time I thought it was very reasonable.

    I'm completely o

  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by dunelin ( 111356 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:41PM (#25130931)

    Our district has had this policy for a long time. As a teacher, it's not too much of a hassle because the whole point of education is to get the kids to learn. If it's impossible to pass the year because of what a student scored the first quarter, they'll give up for the rest of the year. With this policy, there is still hope. In our district, they get their actual scores for midyear and final exams and for the 4th quarter, so they will get killed eventually if they do nothing.

    By the way, the bigger problem is with kids who do the work but don't think. I have lots of students who copy their friends' work, so they have great homework grades, but bomb tests because they have no clue what they're talking about.

  • Umm...er... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:43PM (#25130941)

    Back when I was in grade school they didn't HAVE numerical points... everything was a letter grade so, yeah, you couldn't go lower than an F which is the equivalent here. Once I was in the upper schools, you STILL couldn't get lower than an F (59 in my school system) on the report card, no matter how low you were. I don't see why you need to "flatten" individual test grades, so long as the value to determine the grade is "reset" every grade period.

    Or maybe now we could finally discuss my Spanish language class (In the US and taught by a native German who was visiting for a year?!?) who gave ONE quiz for one grading period comprising 4 questions (2 5 pointers and 2 45 pointers) and I had to explain to my parents why I was flunking Spanish because I missed 1 question for 45 points!

    Also, if students make... oh say... 150 points on a test are they allowed to skip a later test or get A++++++ because they obviously have earned it? Or are they gated as well... what happens to THEIR self-esteem when this occurs?

    • Also, if students make... oh say... 150 points on a test are they allowed to skip a later test or get A++++++ because they obviously have earned it? Or are they gated as well... what happens to THEIR self-esteem when this occurs?

      They realize that mediocrity is A-OK, and only strive for 90% on everything. ;)

      (That's what I did.)

  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by AaxelB ( 1034884 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:43PM (#25130945)
    Calvin and Hobbes [uclick.com]
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:44PM (#25130949)

    So, the problem is the teachers can only be bothered to test twice per class... Meaning a student getting 20% on the first test has to get 100% on the second to get a 60% average.

    As a radical suggestion, somewhere in the long summer vacations, after the 2pm finishes... Get off your lazy asses and come up with say ten tests throughout the course.

    Now a 20% on the first test only knocks 8% off the total grade, not 40%, and is quite surmountable without needing pity grades.

    I realize this is clearly advanced rocket science so take your time to fully digest the idea. I'm freely offering it for the good of ull duh stoodnts in pitsbug.

    Let's try not to make their being even stupider any more acceptable. One of these kids could end up becoming president one day and the last thing we need is a moron spending eight years in the whitehouse, driving the country, its military and its economy in to the ground. Let's keep that an unthinkable impossibility people!

  • Damn public schools (Score:2, Informative)

    by Flavio ( 12072 )

    Education is too important to be left to the state.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yah, leave it to the corporations. You know, the ones that have nothing else but the best interests of the students education in mind... wait a minute...

  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:46PM (#25130969)
    As a high school teacher, I often assign a score of 50 to anything less than a 50. Why? Because it's fundamentally unfair to offer a student with a 60 (a failing grade) a "smaller spread" to get to a 70 than a student who bombs a test with a 20 (also a failing grade). Why should one failing student have an opportunity to make up for a bad test grade, while giving another failing student no opportunity to do the same? The concept of having a 70-point spread for failing students, and a 30-point spread for passing students (on a scale of 100) is fundamentally flawed.

    That said, I do assign a grade of zero to the students who simply don't bother to do the work. I would have issues with any school district that mandated that I give a grade no less than a 50, because that removes the option for me to assign a zero if I believe it's warranted. At any rate, we just need to scrap all this grading scale granularity and assign pass/fail grades: Either you have subject mastery, or you don't. No subject (not even math) is so objective as to ensure fairness for all students operating at the same level of content mastery.

    • It's not fundamentally unfair. It shows the kids that aren't doing as well that they need to get their stuff in gear. Now, if the kid isn't doing well, and you want to take him aside and explain that you will be willing to erase some of his past scores (or increase them) if you see him do really hard work to try to bring himself up. But, when kids get tests back that say "50%" and it's obvious that 50% is your floor, now your kids can exploit the system and do just enough to get that passing grade, inste
    • by Degrees ( 220395 ) <.ten.labolgcbs. .ta. .seerged.> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:53AM (#25132045) Homepage Journal

      So I went to the store a couple days ago, and offered the (four!) sales people the following deal: I'll buy the cell phone at the normal price, one bluetooth headset at full price, if you'll give me three of the accessories at half price. I'll buy the expensive bluetooth headset at 100% of it's retail price, if you will sell me the cheap bluetooth + rubber skin + leather case at 50% off.

      The one salesman jumped at the chance to make the sale. One guy (the manager) backed off, but the two of other three thought it was a good idea. They processed my order. It was late, my wife and I were hungry - we went home. Looking at the order, they shafted us $36 on the 50% off.

      Called them up and told them there was a problem. Went in the next day to sort it all out.

      Not one, but two of these twenty-somethings insisted that "50% off" works, when you take 10% off the expensive item, and 20% off the two inexpensive items. 10 + 20 + 20 = 50, y'know?


      I had to insult their intelligence and ask if 50% off a car can be computed by taking 49% off the cost of the radio, and 1% off the cost of the engine.

      Eventually, they did make it right (mostly) but it reminded me again of just how stupid youngsters can be getting out of high school.

      If a kid tries hard and cannot get four questions right on a twenty question test, maybe he needs to stay back a year. Wouldn't that be more kind than fooling the child into thinking he's got a shot? Let him/her be the big fish in next year's pond, instead of a struggling minnow in this year's pond.

  • by Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:47PM (#25130975) Journal

    Much like the current economic crisis, shouldn't failure be allowed? As some banks should be failing for bad investments, some students should fail to allow them to do-over.
    I blew off a year of math and I went to summer school, once. I'm not proud, but it was a motivational experience. Summer school sucks.

    SMU Dean David Chard In support of DISD's new grading policy [dallasnews.com]

    On a more frightening note, public education now seems to be king, in California at least. Homeschooling Banned in California [naturalnews.com]

    Does anyone else notice that things are going downhill? And they're speeding up?

  • Negative Infinity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TejWC ( 758299 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:48PM (#25130981)

    There is one course that I took that made us write down not only our answers in the test, but also our certainty for our answer. The scoring was a logarithmic scale such that if you say you are 100% sure of an answer but get it wrong, you get Negative Infinity for that question and you end up failing the class. Oddly enough, this course was in CMU at Pittsburgh.

  • You can do this and make the pass mark 75%. It makes no real difference, it just re-scales everything, and the students who get 50% won't understand anyway!
  • by mkcmkc ( 197982 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:52PM (#25131005)

    If you're thinking about the way pilots are (or ought to be) evaluated, or you think grades are a good stick with which to beat kids, this probably sounds like utter crap. But if you're really concerned about how to motivate kids, the picture is much more complex.

    If you've never read it Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has an interesting passage [talkingtree.com] related to this subject. (It's one of my favorite books--you really should just read it in its entirety.)

  • Doesn't surprise me (Score:3, Informative)

    by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:00AM (#25131081)

    Like anything else in government accomplishing goals is not a priority. Even when it comes to edcuating children. Or ensuring the future needs of a country.

    Everyone wants a cushy job, nice pension. So, if the children are underperforming, it either the kid's fault or the teachers. Now that kids can't fail and all get 50%, well its probably a lot harder to fire a really lousy teacher, huh??!!!

    I mean this one seriously to boot (sadly enough):
    1) Let Students get at least 50%
    2) ????
    3) Profit!!!!

  • by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:16AM (#25131213) Homepage

    Has anyone thought of what this actually means? Mathematically?

    For example, let's say there are 5 assignments and 2 tests. The tests are worth 25% of your final mark.
    The assignments are worth 10% each.

    Additionally, let's go with the ABCDE scheme, and the student needs a 60% to pass with a D.

    What's the minimum mathematical grade needed to pass?

    First the tests: 0% on either test.

    We've now got 25% on the course.

    Then the assignments:

    3 assignments: 0%

    We've now got 40% on the course.

    2 assignments: 100%

    We've now got our 60%, D grade for the course.

    That means even though the student received a mathematical 20% when their entire coursework is taken into account, they would receive a D.

    That is definite grade inflation.

    Based on my behaviour in high school, I would have most definitely gotten 100% on the first two assignments, and then skipped the rest of the term, walking out with my 60%. Would I have known the material? Definitely not. Would I have known 60% of the material? Definitely not.

  • Great life lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MasterC ( 70492 ) <cmlburnett@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @12:18AM (#25131243) Homepage

    This teaches a great life lesson and ethic. Let's see how well it carries over into the working world!

    Not leaving the struggling behind is noble and all, but when the rope pulling up the strugglers is tied around the neck of the non-strugglers the nobility ends and the entire system is degraded.

    If you blow off a test you damn well deserve a zero. If you don't turn in homework then you damn well deserve a zero.

    If you just. can't. get. chemistry then the teacher should be willing and have latitude to help you.

    Why should someone who works their ass off for a 55% be completely marginalized by someone who skipped class to get 50%?

    Government intervention in the housing market has royally screwed things up. School administration intervention into teaching will royally screw things up. In both cases we lose as a whole.

  • by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <tukaro@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:17AM (#25131759) Homepage Journal

    I can agree with their reason behind it, but not the execution. This is just like the "Everyone take off their shoes in case they're bombs" rule--it has a background, it has a "good" intent, but it's a horrible answer.

    I know that many times in college, getting a very low grade early on struck a blow because I thought I might not be able to understand the rest of the material and pass. Even if everyone failed along with me, that wouldn't do much to perk me up. And often times the professor would state that there is a curve, but it's still a horrible one. A few times I just decided to withdraw rather than risk an F.

    So I can get behind their idea that those who start failing early on will lose hope, and so need some sort of assurance to continue working. But auto-grading at 50% is a bad idea; how do you easily distinguish someone who tried but just doesn't get it and someone who didn't care and decided to just flake it? They both need help, but help of a different sort. This answer says "Well they should both just try harder".

    Unfortunately, I don't know what a better solution might be. Many of my college classes had a policy for tests/quizzes where the lowest one would be dropped or the weights would change depending on how you did between them. Homework was graded normally. I think this works better-- they still get an accurate grade on assignments and so know what they have to work on, but it won't hurt them in the long run.

    On another note, why the hell is this in Idle? Idle is for worthless shit and slashvertisements. This seems something better fit for Politics (maybe Science?). And what the hell is up with Idle's newline formatting?

  • by LoadWB ( 592248 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @01:26AM (#25131825) Journal

    So, at what point do we just start handing out diplomas and degrees to newborns? I mean, we would not want them to try and fail at an education; that might scar their delicate self-esteem. At some point in the near future, mediocrity becomes the standard, and there is no initiative to achieve or strive for excellence, because doing so makes you a show-off, elitist, or you take more than your fair share of the accolades.

    Timmy got an F, you got an A. Well, let us just average that together and you both get a C+. OMFG.

    You know, I have to wonder if all these stupid putzes that pass rules like this ever had problems succeeding as children and are trying to make up for some neurotic after-effects of a childhood of low achievement, or if perhaps they excelled and feel guilty for having done so and this is some kind of catharsis for their academic guilt.

    Either way, it is pretty fucked up. More and more I lean towards home-schooling when I finally find a woman who will have sex with me and, $_DEITY willing, bear a child to me that looks suspiciously like the bag-boy at the local Publix.

  • A better solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @02:59AM (#25132395) Homepage

    A better solution that several teachers I've had have used is this. They simply discard the highest and lowest score.

    There were variations on this. A couple teachers did it if it improved the grade. One of them repeated removing the highest and lowest test score if it further improved it. Another teacher had a bit of complex formula for deciding how much of the top and bottom to remove.

    The basic idea was that it compensated for a bad day. One teacher removed only the lowest score and didn't remove any high scores. This involved cases where there were at least a few scores to work with. If they are talking about the scores on semester exams only, the sampling is poor.

    I'd like to know why the HTML in my posts on IDLE don't work (it works in other Slashdot sections).

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @04:27AM (#25132895)
    All you need are two equations.
    Having marked normally the teacher says

    politically_correct_score = real_score / 2 + 50;

    Or receiving a score the brighter kids can apply

    real_score = 2 * (politically_correct_score -50);

    This way mediocre Mike can congratulate himself on 55% while brilliant Beryl knows that she has to work harder having scored 75%.
  • just plain stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:59AM (#25133929) Homepage

    This sounds like the same kind of philosophy that said that "everyone should be able to go to college" and "everyone should be able to buy a big house."

    Just plain stupid.

    Life is hard, folks. A quality life is going to require a lot of hard work. If you cannot pass your classes in high school, there are still jobs to had, but don't expect that you deserve that 65" plasma TV and the S-class Mercedes.

  • by againjj ( 1132651 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @05:45PM (#25143465)
    My father teaches (admittedly on the college level), and in a number of his classes, he refuses to accept homework that is non-passing. Thus, in this situation, you would not have to assign 50% to those homeworks, since they are not turned in yet. Or, say that a requirement for a grade above F is to turn in at least 60% of all homework.

The other line moves faster.