Letter: Disappointed in desire to lower grading scale

By on October 22, 2009

I was deeply disappointed when I read about the parents’ petition asking the Kaneland School Board to consider lowering the grading scale.

If these parents want their children to get better grades, why not do it the old fashioned way and motivate their sons and daughters to work harder and study more? Why are they not worried about learning?

Changing the grading scale might give your child a higher grade, but it will not give him or her greater knowledge, a better education or a higher ACT score. Rather than ask for better performance, they’re just asking for better grades—a free lunch, so to speak. That’s like fiddling with your car’s odometer in order to claim that it’s getting better gas mileage than your neighbor’s car.

With Kaneland High School on the list for failing to make adequate yearly progress in standardized test scores, according to the No Child Left Behind Act, handing out more A’s and B’s will not help. The district (and the parents) should be focused on strategies to improve teaching and learning. We should be raising expectations, not lowering them.

In my view, this is also a bit of a red herring. I have a junior at Kaneland who frequently complains to me about the grading scale, so on one level I understand the relief these parents are seeking. What these parents may not understand, and what I explain to my son, is that changing the grading scale will not necessarily—and should not, in my opinion—change the grades.

Ultimately, we have to trust the teachers and the schools to determine what is an A performance, B performance, etc. Whatever scale we use, an A should reflect outstanding achievement, not just good achievement.

Jonathan Berg
Elburn

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7 Comments

  1. RM

    October 22, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    I have 2 children in high school. Both are A students and one is in the top 5 in her grade. I support changing the grading scale not because I want my children to get better grades but because I want the teachers to get off their butts and teach. We have so dumbed down the curriculum because of the grading scale and block scheduling. Teachers are wasting much of their blocks because if they spend the whole time teaching the kids will be bored. (I heard these words directly from more than one teacher.) Only the students who are aggressive and taking AP classes are getting a decent education. That just isn’t right. Tenure needs to be tossed in the dumpster. Teachers need to teach or get out. I can’t sit on my butt and be mediocre after 20 years and still keep my job. They shouldn’t be able to coast into an easy retirement either. Most of the Kaneland teachers are fabulous but there are some who should be kicked to the curb. A parent who sits back and just trusts the teachers and school to do the right thing today is a fool. You have to be aggressively involved these days. It’s not like it was when I went to school in the 1960′s. I did homework every night. I wrote papers and read extensively. Teachers taught and we learned. There was no texting, tweeting or other nonsense going on. My parents didn’t have to stand over me or my four siblings or teach what the teachers couldn’t seem to handle. An A will still reflect outstanding achievement if the curriculum is raised to the standards they should be. And I would be willing to bet that there will be an increase in test scores as well.

  2. KanelandSr09

    October 25, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    I am sorry, but the grading scale is a problem and has been a problem for a long time. Colleges don’t even use a 7 pt scale anymore. I’m also sorry to say that I have written the paper before about the teaching at Kaneland, and it was about the same time last year, maybe a little bit earlier. Last time I put my two sense in the paper it was because people were arguing about the school falling behind on the testing average, and the reason for me writing that was because people were il-educated and writing into the paper just to complain. Yet again we have someone who wants to complain just to complain. You don’t realize the curriculum being taught is harder than ever, and its harder and harder to get an A, especially at Kaneland. The GPA of a student at Kaneland wouldn’t go up if we stopped block scheduling, I love the block scheduling because you can get more credits done quicker than anywhere else in the area. The grade scale needs to be brought down, because as RM stated above the only people who are benefitting from the 7 pt scale is the kids who take AP, and honestly theres more kids NOT in AP than there are kids in AP so why are we only benefiting a small portion of the student body.
    The teachers are teaching what they need to, IN block scheduling, and it needs to stay that way. The only thing that needs to change is the scale. Lets get real, colleges don’t use it, and by having it so tough, it makes your GPA look even worse than it actually is. I am currently in college and I am at an A average, however if it was in the grading scale that Kaneland gives out, it would be a B average. So why is it fair that you have to work twice as hard to get an A in High School and Middle School compared to when you go to college. Isn’t college supposed to be harder? I support the change in the grading scale, and if you want to complain maybe you should go back to high school and try and get an A.

  3. RM

    October 27, 2009 at 7:58 PM

    Apparently you are a product of the Kaneland system as you don’t know how to spell. Two sense should be two cents and il-educated isn’t a word. (I think you mean ill-educated which still isn’t a word!) I hold multiple college degrees and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your limited experience gives you a limited perspective. A few years of college and some life experience will hopefully open your eyes one day. Block scheduling is a great thing when used appropriately. Too many teachers aren’t using it to maximize the experience. Getting more credits done quicker is NOT the purpose of block scheduling. The purpose is to spend more time working on a subject in the hopes of learning it better. Unfortunately you don’t understand that any better than some of the teachers.

  4. rascal21985

    November 20, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    I understand the want for the grading scale to be the same throughout Kane county schools. However, I do not understand why people would think that it would put your child at a disadvantage. If the grading scale is higher, than your students need to work a little harder to acheive that A or B. In the end isn’t Kaneland’s grading system producing smarter students? The 10 point grading scale allows students to slack off a little bit more whereas the 7 point grading scale puts higher expectations on students to create a higher standard of learning. This is just my opinion but, having attended Kaneland schools I never felt disadvantaged for having a different grading scale than area schools.

  5. RM

    November 21, 2009 at 8:13 AM

    The system is not producing smarter students. That is the point. There are many exceptional students at Kaneland who will succeed in spite of the current system. The reason why kids in the system are at a disadvantage is that the curriculum has been dumbed down. Standards were higher 40 years ago than they are today. Today we teach to pass tests rather than to learn the material. There are actually teachers at the high school that can’t send home a notice without multiple errors and a rare few who believe that students don’t need to read outside of class. Because of dumbing down the curriculum, the grading scale has to be tight or everyone would get an A. If all teachers taught to a high standard and those that didn’t were let go, the students would win through a better education and the grading scale could be relaxed a bit. Like it or not students focus on grades sometimes more than learning. Getting a C or D because you got one or two questions wrong creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

  6. rascal21985

    November 30, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    Based on what you have said RM, it sounds like it is the teachers and the curriculum that are the problem, not the grading scale. By going to the 10 point grading scale it is just making it even easier for students to slide by with an A. The teachers need to take responsibility and teach the curriculum at a high school level. I don’t believe that the grading scale is the issue.

  7. RM

    November 30, 2009 at 6:16 PM

    The problem is multifaceted as I previously said. If teaching standards were higher across the board, then the grading scale could be what it should be. If everything is too easy, then the scale needs to be narrowed or everyone would have A’s. Obviously everyone is not an A student. It’s is a lose-lose for students when they learn less but have to be perfect to get an A.

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