At some schools, 4 is the new A+ (exc...

At some schools, 4 is the new A+ (except when it isn't)

There are 48 comments on the Chicago Tribune story from Jun 4, 2009, titled At some schools, 4 is the new A+ (except when it isn't). In it, Chicago Tribune reports that:

When her children brought home their final report cards on Thursday, Mary Schooley studied the complicated language of their achievement as if she were tackling an algebraic equation.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Chicago Tribune.

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Darkwater

Chicago, IL

#1 Jun 5, 2009
Dumb, Dumb, Dumb Get back to one standard of A through F. Then tell the parents exactly what that means. Geez, The more they try to make each kid feel good about themselves the less they make of the achievements. Every kid is equal, how are they going to experience failure and triumphant? They need both. Idiot teachers and admins both!
jjrg7

Raleigh, NC

#2 Jun 5, 2009
When I was a kid we got 1,2,3 and 4's on our report card, and we always translated them to D,C,B and A's.
DeFence

El Dorado Hills, CA

#3 Jun 5, 2009
What utter bs. It's like not keeping score in Little Leagues and the "everybody gets a trophy" crap. The kids know and want to know. Trust me, the kids know who the smart M students are and who the dumb E students are. Just like "rides the short" bus has become the new derogatory euphemism for what in the sixties and seventies was termed "retarded."
Gobblygook

AOL

#5 Jun 5, 2009
One of the key motivations to the nonsense of alpha and numeric 'grading' is that it helps make quantification of acadmeic results more difficult.
You can't evaluate - on any meaningful basis, that which is unquantifiable.
These institutions mights as well drop the alpha-numerics altogether and simply send home report-cards that provide a single number - reflecting the number of days the student was present. After all, since the number of kids on the number of days that show up determines funding, that's all that really matters - right? It doesn't matter that we're turning out generation after generation of unemployables. No, it's only about getting their hands on those tax-dollars.
Learning - real learning {instead of preparing for standardized/lowest common denominator tests that are used as a basis for funding from the public trough}, that ceased to be the goal of public education in these parts a long long time ago.
More Craziness

Glendale Heights, IL

#6 Jun 5, 2009
This is one more example of how screwed up our schools are. It gets worse in high school, where an A in an AP class is worth 5 points, but in a regular class only 4. You have so many students graduating with a GPA of more than 4, so in many schools, a 4.0 GPA is just average. In some schools, they stopped ranking graduating classes as students with a 4.0 GPA were in the middle of the pack.

The problem is not all schools are on the same system, so in some schools an A in an AP class = 5 points, while in others it still equals 4 points. It's nearly impossible to compare GPAs across high schools.
Miz

Englewood, CO

#7 Jun 5, 2009
That is ridiculous. If you don't want to compare students to other students you can remove the bell curve without changing the letters used for the grades. I also ndidn't get graded on a bell curve until High School. Who is seriously grading 3rd graders on a bell curve and then changing their minds as if they've had some sort of epiphany?
Standards

AOL

#8 Jun 5, 2009
An A+ is 98% or higher.
An A is 95-97%
An A- is 92-94%
A B+ is 89-91%
A B is 86-88%
A B- is 84-85%
A C+ is 82-83%
A C is 80-81%
A C- is 78-79%
A D is 76-77%
A D- is 75%
Below 75% is an F!
You can fudge this scale all you want, but, all you'd get is nonsense.
Standardized tests and standardized grades. Live with 'em.
What's the purpose of grades if they're not established, consistent and/or meaningful?
Without the use of the table above you might as well just mark 'em all present or not.
No median setting curves, no numerics, no... nonsense. It's either performance that can be quantified, or - it's gibberish.
S means Satisfactory

Lombard, IL

#9 Jun 5, 2009
I grew up in the 70s in Ohio (outside of Cleveland), my district used the E-S-N-U system for the primary grades. It's nothing new and nothing to get in a twitter about - it works well for the younger crowd because they're learning the basics, not competing against each other. Competition is healthy, but in its proper place. Crushing little self-esteems that early is not the right method. My daughter's school uses a similar system from kindergarten through 2nd, and the A-B-C system starts in 3rd. It's really not a big deal to expand it to include older students.
Change happens - we have to adapt to become a more global culture. All of you "Who Moved My Cheese" moaners need to realize that we really aren't the big fish in the lake any more, and the U.S. lags behind in its educational methods.
Laura

Wheaton, IL

#10 Jun 5, 2009
Bolingbrook went to the B, M, E scale about 3 years ago for elementary schools. I find it confusing. In our school district B = Below expectations, M = Meets expectations & E = Exceeds expectations. Our students also get a 1, 2 or 3 for effort. We also have problems with businesses not honoring the "E's" as "A's". I can't wait until my 3rd grader gets to middle school so I can get back on familiar footing.
zmxnyv7

Charlotte, NC

#11 Jun 5, 2009
I guess I am old, but I thought an E meant Excellent.
Mom

Bolingbrook, IL

#12 Jun 5, 2009
I appreciate the feedback of knowing what my child can and cannot do much better than a blanket A, B, C grade. I much prefer the checklists my son's school provides for math that tells me exactly where he is strong and exactly where I need to work with him more. This helps him learn and isn't that the point?! If he gets a B it doesn't tell me that he's great in multiplication but needs help with division. It just tells me he's above average, but what does that really mean? I wish they would do a similar checklist for the other subject areas, too.
thefeelgoodtrend thatisbad

Lake Bluff, IL

#13 Jun 5, 2009
Look where all this grade manipulation has gotten us- Is it really better for "Johnny" and "Susie" to feel good about getting a below standards mark? What happens when they grow up and someone holds them to a set standard and isn't concerned about making them "feel good" about their sub-par performance?

The only successful way to help someone bolster their self-esteem is to teach them the tools to succeed and then give them the incentive to do so. Let them know if they didn't make the grade - that is what gives people the incentive to try harder! And the important fact is that success is not equal to being #1 at something. Everyone cannot be "the best" - DO your best, work hard and reap the rewards.

This whole bag of grades baloney has only served to take away any drive to work hard - each child is "fantastic" and "gifted" and "doing a great job" no matter what they do. I actually observed a young mom in a store the other day repeatedly telling her 18 month old "good job!" for taking a ziploc bag from her and simply holding it in her hand- this child is going to expect praise for just getting out of bed in the morning - her whole life!

The outcome of false/over-the-top/excessive praise is an adult who constantly doubts themselves and their abilities because no one is telling them that their every move is a "good job". Our society has "dumbed" down everything in a misguided attempt to make sure no one is left out, feels bad or gets their feelings hurt.

Newsflash -- those experiences are part of life.....and you handicap your kids if you don't teach them how to deal with disappointment and sorrow, because in spite of any parent's best efforts, every child is going to be faced with it at some point in their lives.

Those who have been taught coping skills and have practiced with them throughout their lives will handle whatever "Really Big Bummers" they encounter appropriately and with some measure of grace. Those who have not will wither in self-pity.....or pull out a gun and start shooting innocent people in their complete despair and confusion.

Think about it - we have created the monster and it is all around us.
Hmmmmm

Hoffman Estates, IL

#14 Jun 5, 2009
"None of us would have ever thought about it until it hit us in the head," said Principal Melody Huisinga"

Would somebody please go smack and the others upside the head a few more times? Maybe they will get it.

More blarney brought to you by the 'nobody gets hurt' school of thought..
thefeelgoodtrend thatisbad

Lake Bluff, IL

#15 Jun 5, 2009
S means Satisfactory wrote:
the U.S. lags behind in its educational methods.
This is sadly true to an alarming degree. And I believe the reason is precisely what these manipulated grading scales are doing -- trying to make everyone feel good instead of incenting them to do their very best.

You can be sure that the Asian and Indian cultures are not coddling their children to be sure they all feel like they are the best and can do no wrong.

That is why America is lagging behind - plain and simple.
Jason

San Diego, CA

#16 Jun 5, 2009
Indeed, there's no need to abandon the A-F scale for standards-based grading. Through twelve years of Northbrook schools, we never had a bell curve. If everybody in the room got 90% of their answers right, everybody earned an A. Our competition with each other was a mere byproduct, no one's effort but your own determined your grade.

On the flip side, a couple of college courses (U of I engineering (!)) were so badly taught that less than 50% correct still curved to an A, and students walked out wondering if they'd learned anything at all.(Sometimes, that's life in the big research university...)
Chicagoteacher

Midlothian, IL

#18 Jun 5, 2009
This is not "coddling" children. This is allow parents and educators the opportunity to directly pinpoint an area a student needs to work on. A blanket letter grade does not underscore a students strengths and weaknesses. A student may be able to comprehend what they read, but not summarize it. This system allows the teacher and parent to hone in on the particular skill. Certain skills must be mastered in the younger grades before students are exposed to content material in the upper grades. This system allows for a focus on this.
saraQarmstrong

Addison, IL

#19 Jun 5, 2009
More Craziness wrote:
This is one more example of how screwed up our schools are. It gets worse in high school, where an A in an AP class is worth 5 points, but in a regular class only 4. You have so many students graduating with a GPA of more than 4, so in many schools, a 4.0 GPA is just average. In some schools, they stopped ranking graduating classes as students with a 4.0 GPA were in the middle of the pack.
The problem is not all schools are on the same system, so in some schools an A in an AP class = 5 points, while in others it still equals 4 points. It's nearly impossible to compare GPAs across high schools.
That's why the SATs are useful in college admissions.
Scott

Cleveland, OH

#20 Jun 5, 2009
Standards wrote:
An A+ is 98% or higher.
An A is 95-97%
An A- is 92-94%
A B+ is 89-91%
A B is 86-88%
A B- is 84-85%
A C+ is 82-83%
A C is 80-81%
A C- is 78-79%
A D is 76-77%
A D- is 75%
Below 75% is an F!
What school has the above. All that I know have;
An A+ is 97% or higher.
An A is 96-94%
An A- is 93-90%
A B+ is 89-87%
A B is 86-84%
A B- is 84-80%
A C+ is 79-77%
A C is 76-74%
A C- is 73-70%
A D+ is 69-67%
A D is 66-64%
A D- is 63-60%
Below 60% is an F!
bob1stshirt

Bolingbrook, IL

#21 Jun 5, 2009
Chicagoteacher wrote:
This is not "coddling" children. This is allow parents and educators the opportunity to directly pinpoint an area a student needs to work on. A blanket letter grade does not underscore a students strengths and weaknesses. A student may be able to comprehend what they read, but not summarize it. This system allows the teacher and parent to hone in on the particular skill. Certain skills must be mastered in the younger grades before students are exposed to content material in the upper grades. This system allows for a focus on this.
Give me a break. A, B, C, D, & F are PERFECTLY acceptable ways of determining whether a child is learning what's expected of them! All this other **** is just a smoke and mirrors method of covering up what's really going on. If a parent can't decipher the report card, then it doesn't matter what you call it.

We've gone so far down this "self-esteem" road that we're now producing young adults who can't balance a checkbook and think that life owes them a big house, new car, and a 60" plasma TV.

"You're special," works just fine until the day when an employer expects you to actually DO something. The professional educators and the schools that teach them have been "tinkering" with methods of education since the late '60s. At one point in time, my grade school tore down the walls and there was nothing but air to separate one class from another. This "Open" design was supposed to liberate a child's mind. It was supposed to stimulate them to think of new ideas. Instead, the kids and teachers were distracted by the noise from other "classrooms," and the kids began chatting with kids in other classrooms.

How 'bout less innovation and more concentration on 'readin', writin' and 'rithmatic?

And, if Chicago's now using these amended grading scales... how's that workin' FOR THE KIDS? I could care less if it makes the teacher's job any easier.
MrB

Chicago, IL

#22 Jun 5, 2009
All I can say is....C's for degrees!!!

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