Cheat Lake Elementary School – New Standards-Based Grading: Every Kid Gets a Trophy

My son came home with his first report card for the 2014-2015 5th-grade year at Cheat Lake Elementary School, in Morgantown, Monongalia County, WV. Although, we had been forewarned about the new standards-based grading approach, I was still utterly miffed in reviewing his report card. Filled with “MS” (meets standards) and “AS” (approaching standards) in all grade areas and multiple “objectives” identified under each, quite frankly, it makes absolutely no sense . . . . or should I say, it is complete nonsense. Apparently, this grand grading experiment is the school board’s equivalent of “every kid gets a trophy.”

In early reports of the new grading system, one of the primary justifications for this trial run of the standards-based grading was that . . . well, in essence, no kid fails and every kid succeeds. Heck, I say – except for the kids that are actually succeeding! So the kid that gets 100% across the board on all exams in a particular class, will get an “AS” (approaching standards), just like the kid who received 60-70% grades on all materials in the same class . . . or the kid who received 60-70% grades in the same class, but at a level of that class 1-3 shades lower. How does this incentivize the child in the highest level of a class, obtaining the highest grades in that class to continue to work hard and strive for the 100%? How does this give any real indicator of that child’s performance? The standards-based advocates say, that performance should not be measured on the bell curve, as compared to peers, but rather should be measured against “objective” grade-based standards. This is complete nonsense. First, who sets these standards? Are these standards set by the school board, the individual school, the teachers, or some imbecile bureaucrat at some regional or national level? Why are the standards not graduated to reflect the gradations and levels of a particular discipline (e.g. math, science, etc.) or the sub-standards/”objectives” within that discipline. Why does a kid obtaining a 70% average in the lowest level of a class (say math) get an “AS,” while a child who is in an advanced/highest level of the same class, earning a near 100% average also get an “AS”? How does this make any sense. What “standards” are being applied here that would yield such a result? Naturally, the answer is the “every-child-gets-a-trophy” standard!

Part of this farcical grading scheme was revealed in the three pages of explanatory materials that came with the report card, explaining that because the children are learning new materials, most of them will receive “AS” grades in most subjects and standards. Frankly, this is a lame excuse for the dumbing down of our grading system and grading every child as “average.” In reality, is not the whole purpose of school for the children to constantly learn new materials? With this rationale, every child should get an “AS” in every class and “standard” every single time. How then are the children who are excelling and obtaining very high averages in the highest levels of classes, who are consistently performing better than most of their peers rewarded for their high level of academic excellence? You guessed it – they are not. They get a pat on the back and a “good job – you are approaching standards” just like every other kid. Everyone here is special, just like you, and don’t you think for a minute that you are any more special than any one else.

I would like to invite any educator who actually supports this rubbish to reply and provide some logical rationale and insight as to the benefits of this new standards-based-grading. Armed with an education degree and a doctoral degree, I would gladly welcome an intelligent discussion/debate of these issues. Likewise, any other frustrated parents are more than welcome to provide your insights, thoughts, rants, etc.

Concerned Parent,
Bill Adams



by | November 5, 2014 · 9:37 am

38 responses to “Cheat Lake Elementary School – New Standards-Based Grading: Every Kid Gets a Trophy

  1. Ann

    I ripped into the oldest for getting AS(approaching standards) on his report card only to find a note from his teacher explaining that AS was what most kids got at this point in the grading system. However, my two younger children both got MS’s and even an ES on their report card, so there isn’t much consistency between teachers/grades. In my mind AS=C because there are two grades (MS/ES) above it, but for the third grade teacher you only get MS/ES at the end of the year…I think. Teacher’s explanation of the grading system was two sheets of paper long with color coding and charts. Maybe I need to figure out how to do that ‘new math’ to understand the grading system.

  2. Eric Tucker

    As a Father of Cheat Lake Elementary student myself, I fully share your outrage over the new “standards-based” grading system implemented by the school district. In no way can any rationale educator commend this ill-conceived policy. In addition to every point you made, in which I totally concur, I would like to offer several additional opinions on why I feel this system is fundamentally flawed. 1) Eventually, grades do matter. Whether or not we assign letter grades in elementary school, eventually, as children matriculate into middle school, high school, and college, school work is subject to evaluation by letter grade based on performance. How do we prepare our children for the future, if we teach them in elementary school that “C” work is equal to “A” work in any given class? 2) In life, like it or not, we must work hard to achieve our goals; what life lesson do we teach our children when we do not reward best effort? 3) Not every class performs “on grade level.” Take for instance children enrolled in advanced math, which instructs students at one grade level above their own. If I understand this new grading policy correctly, every child is performing above grade level…exceeding standards…regardless if they are at the top or bottom of their class. This applies in reverse to students with learning disabilities or other special needs, which despite their best effort and the efforts of those that teach them, can not meet standards if they are working below grade level…even if they meet or exceed every goal on their IEP. In sum, I feel this system is a mockery of our education system; it trivializes hard work and diminishes the value of performance. Instead of “trophy for everyone,” I fear standard-based grading is really a “trophy for no one” policy, because–in my opinion–no one wins.

    • Thank you Eric – You are dead on in your analysis. When everyone wins, no one wins. If everyone is special, no one is special.

      • Eric Tucker

        You’re welcome, Bill. If you know a lawyer that would like to draft a letter of petition to the Monongalia County school board, I’d be happy to help compose the letter and circulate it for signatures…

      • Judy Laird

        Joseph Martinelli I don’t believe we are talking about winners or losers with our kid’s education. It is a matter of measuring what they are capable of doing on an individual basis compared to the effort they are willing to devote to accomplish a goal. Without proper measurement the teacher, the parent, and the child does not have a clear picture of what the child should be working toward to make their adult life the best it can be when they need it. After all schooling, whether it be in a public forum or home based, is the way we teach our children to live realistically not just giving them something they don’t work toward. We should be focusing on developing their work ethnics since in the “real world” they will not get a free ride to promotions and/or raises in their chosen careers. How can parents help their children achieve their goals if the child’s individual achievements are not recognized properly? I think that is the whole issue and frustration for the parents of children who do extra to achieve these goals. It depletes the child’s efforts therefore the child ends up giving up on their goals. Not very healthy for the future of our children.

  3. Do we know who is in charge? Is this a state issue or a county issue or part of a federal initiative? We have a group of moms from Mountainview ready to hit Charleston about this! I am tired of testing driving every piece of my child’s education and this is just more of the same? What happened to “each according to his needs?”

  4. John Montgomery

    I understand the common misunderstanding that most parents are having. But you are missing the point, ES is for those children who do MORE than average. If your child only does the bare minimum when covering a topic or standard, should they get an ES, even if they did get 100% on everything. This system of grading does have its shortcomings, but so did a system that was created over 200 years ago to grade shoes. We are living in a different world now and unless we try to change what chance do these children have to accept change and grow from it.

    • I, along with many others, are not missing the point. My child is in accelerated math and getting near 100% – he is not doing the bare minimum, yet he received mostly “AS” grades under math. He also does far MORE than average in many other subjects, where he is also receiving mostly “AS” grades. We are not talking about shoes here. We are talking about the education of our children. Frankly, a merit-based system has worked for hundreds of years, because it mirrors reality – i.e. if you achieve you are rewarded, if you fail you are not. That is simply how the world works and should work, despite the prevailing touchy-feely nonsensical “every-kid-gets-a-trophy” zeitgeist.

    • Courtney Hetrick

      I agree with William! My child is doing the hardest spelling words at Eastwood (there are at least 3 levels of spelling words.) He gets 100% every time and still only got an AS because “at this point everything is new and you can expect MS and ES closer to the end of the school year.” It is ridiculous that my child is doing harder work but getting the same “grade.”

  5. Dorma Ball

    I’m with all of you. My children are grown but I have grand kids in North Elementary. It makes no sense!

  6. Kyle Turnbull

    As someone without any “skin in the game,” I will leave a response on behalf of the school board. The traditional grading system is not the best way to teach students how to be self-motivated and go above and beyond what a student might be “required” to learn. The traditional grading system teaches students to do exactly what is required of them to reach an intended result, i.e. an “A.” With that type of system, the students will do nothing more than learn what is required to reach that “A” or “B.” This type of learning is not conducive to teaching students to think critically about what they are learning and to ask open or difficult questions; instead, the students get the information they need for the test and move on.

    Moreover, this position is supported by a number of graduate level teaching institutions, most notably, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford Law Schools. Harvard does not issue grades and there is no class rank; rather, students receive a “Pass,” “Low Pass,” or “Fail” mark for each class they take. To quote from the dean of Harvard Law, the grading system allows “students to distinguish themselves with high achievement, while not burdening them with the pressure of the letter grading system.” She also stated that “[t]he faculty believes that this decision will promote pedagogical excellence and innovation and further strengthen the intellectual community in which we all live.”

    Also, as you pointed out, grading on an A-F system can be very random depending on the teacher, leaving some students with lower GPA’s who may have taken the same class and performed equally as well as his/her counterparts, but had a different teacher who graded harder. This type of system will allow each student to perform his/her very best without such an unfair result. Especially in a middle school setting, where grades and GPA’s will have no effect on the student’s future college and beyond, this may be a good system to help effectuate the learning process for all students.

    Again, I do not have a child in middle school here in Mon County; I just thought it was worthwhile to make the argument for the other side. I am not sure if there are studies out there regarding the efficacy of this type of grading system vs. traditional grading methods. Nonetheless, in theory, it may not be a bad idea for this age students. I also understand that these types of grading systems are being implemented in the aforementioned settings with a majority of highly motivated, highly intelligent students; however, the same type of grading system has been used in this county in other settings, namely pre-k and kindergarten. I know that ELF used to use such a system– not sure if they still do.

    • Thank you for the thoughtful and articulate response. Unfortunately, the system at issue here, as applied on a grade school level, does not teach students to be self motivated, as teachers are teaching to the “standards” for each subject. These standards are normalized and the teachers’ performance is graded on their students collective ability to meet the standards. The smart and exceptional students get bored, not self motivated, and even if they were motivated to do more, the teacher is too bogged down trying to bring the others in the class up to the standards to recognize or reward individual excellence. And really, an “MS” or “ES” or no grade at all is not really incentive to strive for excellence anyway. I suspect that this new system has a far greater effect of causing the students to do nothing more than what is required of them. After all, this is not Harvard or Yale or Stanford, or law school generally, where high achievers have alternative outlets for distinguishing themselves (e.g. law review and other scholarly achievements).

      While an A-F grading system naturally has some subjectivity built in, the very same subjectivity applies to the new model, as reflected by one of the others who commented. While I acknowledge that elementary school grades have no great direct impact on the scholastic future of our children, the disincentive and collectivist mentality of this approach could be more damaging to a child’s self motivation.

  7. Courtney Ostaff

    Part of the problem is the change in standards, and I don’t mean Common Core (although those are the standards on these “report” cards). I’m assuming (and you know what they say about assumptions!) when you and I went to school, there was this expected material to learn. But it was also expected that not everyone would “get” all of it. That was OK. The A students would get it pretty darn well, the B students got it above average, the C students got what one would normally expect, etc. It was fairly bell-curved. The material was ambitious, and that was OK, because it was a goal, not a floor. Students were compared to each other–Tom got 95% of the concept, so he gets an A, etc. We call that “norm referencing.” It uses the teacher’s professional judgement. “Yeah, that’s an A paper for a 10 year old with experience in paper writing.”

    Now, the material is expected to be mastered at 100% by everyone. That’s the equal outcome, and it’s the standard. No, hold on, I’m serious. It doesn’t matter if it’s an unrealistic goal, but that’s the expectation. When the schools are labeled “failing”, it’s because their students, even the dying ones, don’t master the material at that standard. We have also switched the way we grade.

    Instead of comparing students to each other, or even using a teacher’s experience, we grade on mastery, also known as “criterion referencing.” It doesn’t matter if Suzy studied 12 hours a day and Sally studied for 10 minutes, if Suzy is 5 and Sally is 7, or if Suzy is terminally ill and Sally is healthy as a horse. What matters is that they prove they can do X, Y, and Z identically. They have mastered the skill, according to the multiple choice test. If your students can do more, it’s irrelevant. If they can’t do it, it doesn’t matter what they can do, all that matters is that they failed.

    I suppose it’s good that we know for sure that students grade 3 can perform at X level on Y date according to Z test. But, it makes no allowances for individual differences, and it provides no incentive to go above and beyond. Employers hate that, I hear, that their young employees perform tasks like they’re running down a checklist, and then when they’re done, they feel free to sit on their behinds, because they performed to mastery. And then, imagine, they want a reward because they did what you told them to do–here’s the checklist! If you want them to do something else, they’d be happy to, but you didn’t ask! How are they supposed to know what to do if you don’t tell them? See the problem here?

    Part of the implementation problem is the test score problem. If you’re teaching, and you’ll get fired/the entire faculty and staff will be laid off/the district will lose funding–unless all your kids get to mastery. You’re going to work your hardest on those kids that need just a little edge to raise the average score for the class/school/district. The hopeless ones are the special educators’ problems, and the top-notch ones just need to be babysat. The test becomes the alpha and the omega.

  8. Eric Filburn

    I agree 100% or should I say I agree AS. My son works hard on his school work to get good grades, yet when report cards come he gets MS in a few subjects but AS in the rest. How do you explain to your child he is doing good work and needs to continue to work hard in school when he used to be able to see the fruits of his labor by receiving all A’s, and now all he see’s is AS.

    • Courtney Hetrick

      I like that my son also gets “extra credit” except where is it going because even though he has received all 100% grades on test and done the extra credit, still received an AS??

  9. Sampy Hardin III

    As a former Cheat Lake student I would like to give my $0.02. Unless there is solid evidence against the new grading style it’s really hard to say this way of grading is invalid. From a business perspective, look at what happened to Microsoft when they implemented rank and yank. Many studies and businesses have shown that ranking employees on a bell curve kills morale. Arguably, whether talking about an organization or an organism, if you kill morale it is harder to win.

    In my present opinion, which is subject to change with sufficient evidence, it is more important these children develop a deep passion for learning. I made horrible grades in K-12 ending up with a 1.8 GPA before barely graduating high school. That being said, academically, intellectually, and in quality of life, I feel I have surpassed at least 90% of the 94% of students and educators who had graduated ‘above’ and ‘taught’ me. The only thing the old way of grading did was make it harder for me to start college. I’m only one opinion, but the old way doesn’t work well the way I see things.

    In summation, I can’t say for sure if the old way of measuring performance is better or not. To me, it makes more sense to anchor positive emotions toward learning, especially during early stages of development. I’d vote for the new system because the old system probably isn’t even measuring the right thing. If I wanted to measure how tall someone is, would it make sense to measure their weight? Developing passion and charisma trumps elementary school a’s and b’s. I find this new vehicle for grading quite intriguing. Unfortunately, very intelligent people typecast themselves as not being smart enough way too early and get anchored thinking this way. It’s time for a change.

  10. Michelle

    My husband and I were saying the exact same thing when report cards came home. When did grading go to “every child gets a trophy”? It’s especially hard, as you said for those children who are excelling, and likewise, how are parents of children struggling supposed to see where they’re struggling if “everyone gets a pat on the back”. While my child excels at reading, history, science and extra circulars, math is harder for her, yet according to the grading, she got the generic “AS” as 90% + of the other children did. When I ask her “what grade did you get on your test”, her response is either how many she got right or I don’t know what grade mom. Normally “I don’t know” wouldn’t be an acceptable answer in our home for this question, but how can I fault her for honestly not knowing?

    In our home, if something is hard, or a struggle, you practice to get better, and our children get a sense of accomplishment for the hard work they put in. How are our daughters to get a sense of hard work and accomplishment from school when the kids that may not be trying get the same “report” home to mom and dad each semester?

    My husband and I work hard to provide for our children, and while they may have a cushy life, they have chores and responsibilities to earn things in our home. Hard work teaches them a sense of pride, pride in their work, pride even at times they may fail as a learning experience. This robs them of it completely. It’s a wonder why there are so many children and those even from my own generation, that have a sense of entitlement and believe they are “special” yet do nothing to make themselves special.

  11. I am ready to throw in support to stop this nonsense. This state has had a major turnaround in the elections and perhaps may be able to give our kids their future back.

  12. LYNN

    Unfortunately these issues are the tip of the iceberg. I have students at every level in the schools here and have had issues at every level. The county is run poorly and the students are succeeding in SPITE of the schools, not because of them. We have had some fantastic teachers, and with 4 students in the schools, we have had a LOT of them. However, the SYSTEM itself is FAILING. As a former teacher with experience in 3 districts, and experience as a parent in another district, this one is the worst. The new grading system is just adding fuel to the fire… looking forward to a speedy exit to get my students a better education elsewhere!

  13. Barbara Nitz

    I feel the same way about the new grading system. My son is in 5th grade and since I heard they are not doing this in Middle School (yet) I only have this year to endure this grading scheme. My son is in the TAG program and advanced Math. Fortunately, he has a passion for learning and strives to do his best regardless of an AS (which he got and he also received some MS). However, after reading the report card I basically had no idea how he was doing in school. Approaching what standard set by who? Meeting what standard? Did the BOE make this decision on their own w/o input from the day-to-day educators in Mon County?

  14. Tiphani Davis

    In order to really understand this you have to completely rid yourself of the old grading system. This is a competency based system which has shown to work very well in other states such as Colorado and Alaska. AS does not equate to a C because Cs dont exist anymore. The standards are very specific as to what the students should master by the end of year. I think it is much more transparent than the former grading system where there was no indication of what they should know, unless you took the time to search for the Next Gen CSOs.
    The problem, really, is that this type of grading system cannot work the way it is sulposed to unless we get rid of grade levels and replace them with compentecy levels. Even if a child only receives an AS at the end of the year, they will be moved to the next grade level. If achild receives a ES throughout the year obviously they should be in a higher level class, but they won’t be moved. I think this system would be great if the entire system would change, but until then it will just cause frustration.

    And for the argument of social promotion. The classes should be designed where ate various age levels for the same academic level. This will eleminate any kid who is 12 being stuck with 8 year olds bc they arebon the same academic level. Though the hope is that if the standards are directly stated and you notice your child isn’t progressing then some intervention will be made to make sure they master the standards by the end of the year.

    • Unsure if this is you – “tiphani davis @ladyphilosophy1: I am a teacher, a mother, a lover, a peacemaker, a protester, a socialist, a thinker, a writer, and a wisher;” but regardless you make a few good points, which really support my contention. First, most parents don’t really understand the “much more transparent” standards any more than they understood the prior standards and frankly are not going to research the current competencies/standards, much as they did not previously. Rather, they leave the teaching to the teachers. More involved and proactive parents may educate themselves to some degree, at least to know what and how their children are being taught. So really, there is not much difference there.

      Your identification of the problem is exactly the nature of my (and many other parents’, students’ and teachers’) gripes – this system does away with the incentive and motivation for students to achieve. Ideally, it would work such that every student would be regularly assessed and reassessed and given an IEP, which would adjust to their individualized needs and progress. Their course materials, objectives and standards would be individualized and they would be grouped with children, in a particular discipline, with similar objectives and standards, regardless of the traditional “grade level” to which those objectives and standards previously correlated. Each child or group of children would be taught according to their IEP and individual learning style, speed and motivational factors. Sadly, we do not live in this idealized world. Every single kid does not have an IEP that is regularly being adjusted to that kids learning progress. The resources for this type of system simply are not in place, nor is the understanding of how to truly implement this type of system. This type of system, would provide the incentive and motivation to learn, because the children would have the opportunity to learn materials and strive for objectives/standards at continuously higher levels.

      Sadly, what is happening now, is that the standards/objectives are all normalized to a particular grade and possibly to some degree to different levels of the same discipline even within a particular grade. However, by normalizing standards per grade, the highest achievers in that grade are being dumbed down to the norm; while the teachers strive in frustration and focus their attention, including use of IEPS and specialists, to bring the lowest achievers to the norm.

      Finally, even if enough money and resources and reeducation of our educators went into truly implementing such a paradigmatic system, the grading system would still be an issue. Assume a third grader who is completing objectives one or two grade levels above his peers. Would this child receive an AS, MS or ES? If ES – is that because he is still being graded as against his peers? In that case, what is the purpose of having IEPS and individualized standards and no grade levels, if they are still graded against their peers? Shouldn’t every child just receive a pass/fail under such a system? If they are graded against their peers, then what is wrong with the prior A-F grading system? If they are not graded against their peers, but based upon their custom individual objectives, then every year they would start with an AS and potentially move toward an MS or ES by the end of the year, as they master or exceed such standards . . . however, if those standards are regularly evaluated and adjusted on an individual basis, then every child would only ever be AS, because the bar for each child would constantly be moving based on their individual progress. Of course, because of the limitations in resources, this would be impossible, as there simply are not enough teachers to go around, and because every child has different learning capacities, motivators, speeds, etc. Accordingly, children of “similar” learning abilities would necessarily be lumped together, with the same set of standards for every other kid in the same class. How then to differentiate the children within that class? Perhaps assigning them some metric or form of a grade for their performance, as against their standards-based peers?

  15. Denise Hewitt

    I am so happy that I moved, right now. Please don’t use Harvard as an example, as anyone who attends an elite college made sure they had A’s because ivy league was their goal. Is this how the department of education makes up for lack of parental involvement at home? This is what you get on an employment performance review, not in academics.

  16. And you wonder why so many are homeschooling now…more every year.

  17. MillenniumKidConfusions

    Sooo… I have a question. Is this grading system going to continue into middle school and high school? How will kids get placed in AP classes after grade school if the teachers cannot look at the scores and tell who can do the work? If some of these comments are correct, kids getting 100% should be in AP but the report cards say AS/MS. Does that qualify for AP learning in preparation for college (which grades A-F)

  18. James Matthews

    I have a kid in kindergarten, 5th and 7th grade, each have a different way of learning,which means the educator must adapt to each child to get the most out of them. This is where a grading scale comes into play. So again I only have three kids, sometimes a teacher has twenty some kids that all have different styles of learning to achieve their goals, so for that teacher to be able to actually remember how these students have done they must grade them. By giving every kid a MS or AS doesn’t set anyone apart so we get the advanced ones mixed with the less advanced etc. by doing this we have failed to push these students to meet their goals. Where the A-F grading system set some kind of goals for these kids to achieve, which yes I do understand that this also set a “checklist ” for kids to reach and maintain but if we set the bar at a high level they would always have to push themselves to reach the highest set point. The flaw I see with the old system the A-F system is the bar isn’t set high enough we worry more about how many As se give to how many Cs and DSL etc. so we don’t lose funding or what else. I have seen many kids Report cards over the past few year for the reason of me coaching sports and most all report cards or I will say 85% of them are all most straight As now I know we all think and hope we have the smartest kids but wake up not every student can be a straight A student so until everyone wakes up and excepts teachers giving their kids Bs,Cs, and Ds it really doesn’t matter what system we use cause to me if we all get MS or if we all are getting As the system isn’t being used right there is a reason there are grades A-F and it is to let the parent know where their kids are struggling or excelling but it has to be used right and not just be a letter we just decided to give every kid cause in today’s world we are NOT allowed to hurt their feelings. So in closing I say it doesn’t mater what system we use but it has to be clear and used correctly. Another thing is we have to set unachievable goals for the more advanced to push themselves.

  19. JimJim

    Don’t blame the teachers. This is why the good teachers are leaving the profession. It’s getting impossible to teach. Every three or four years the system is changed. State and local officials drop these things on the teachers heads and don’t have a clue of the consequences. I’m glad to see so many people write in with comments, caring parents are the answer to today’s educational problems. At your next parent teacher conference asked the teacher how your child’s grade equates to the old grading system. And watch the smile on their face.

  20. Roger

    I must be missing something; is the standard is set so that every student is expected to be able to achieve mastery? If so, doesn’t that mean that the standard is the least common denominator?
    One of the requirements for the Promise Scholarship is based on GPA. Similarly, many colleges look at GPA as part of an entrance application. Can this system respond to such requirements?

  21. Sarah King

    I could not agree more. I’m highly insulted knowing that my child is in fact one of the highest in her class and these grading standards are ridiculous. They need to be graded based on their achievements. Please, feel free to email me. How can we change this?

  22. Joseph Martinelli

    I taught 7th and 8th grade in Jr High/Middle schools in Michigan for 30 years. The following comments are most pertinent to that grade level but to a lesser degree throughout K-12.

    The A, B, C grading system is blatantly unfair to students:
    In a classroom of 7th graders the emotional and cognitive development is vastly varied. At one extreme will sit a boy who physically could sit in a 4th grade class without seeming out of place, and at the other extreme a girl who could sit in a junior or senior class without standing out.

    Cognitive develop is just as extreme. At one end you might have a kid who is ready for Algebra 2 and at the other end someone struggling with basic math. (Girls generally mature at a faster rate than boys.)

    The A, B, C grading system in effect favors “early bloomers.” They, through no effort of their own, have an advantage. To use a sports metaphor, it would be like grading kids in a phys ed class based upon their competitive ability. The early bloomer who has matured physically would, in general, have the advantage.

    As a teacher the danger of evaluating kids in a “winner/loser” situation is that the early losers will just assume they are not as good as the competition and worse, maintaining this attitude and assumption and not trying later on–“what’s the use in trying? I know I can’t do it.”

    The A, B, C grading system is also harmful to the brightest kids. Many never reach their potential because they get used to excelling by not having to work very hard to get an “A.” Just as the “late bloomer” may develop a loser mentality, the “early bloomer” may develop a “can get by with little effort” mentality and believing they are actually smarter than they are.

    And,if the concern is motivation, emphasizing strong areas in a kid’s education is much more effective than focusing on negative areas. I think that true of us adults, too.

    The new grading system at Cheat may not be the best answer, but it has to be better than the A, B, C system. At the very least it is an attempt to get better.

    • Courtney Hetrick

      However my child is working harder and gets the lowest AS so again what will make him want to continue working harder if the students with easier work get the same evaluation?

    • LYNN

      I assure you that my oldest daughter who obsessively works to complete every assignment to the absolute best of her ability (3 100s, 2 99s, and 2 97s on her last report card) is NOT getting those grades “through no effort of her own.” I taught AT THE LEVEL OF THESE STUDENTS AT CLE and while some kids easily master the material with or without any instruction, there are a good deal of them that are rewarded by good grades because the LISTEN AND APPLY THEMSELVES both in and out of class. There are also kids that work hard and struggle, but the whole point of the report card is to report PROGRESS not EFFORT. That is what the CONDUCT portion of the report card is for! I have 4 kids of my own who fit at every end of the spectrum you are speaking of Joseph Martinelli. NOT every kid that gets all A’s is doing so with ease. 2 of mine work VERY HARD at it, the other 2 not so much, and guess what, their grades reflect that! 3 of my kids can easily perform 90 percentile or better with no effort. One of them is not satisfied with being ONE of the best, she strives to be THE best. For the 4th, nothing comes easily and she WORKS HARD for every A that she gets. She performs near the top because of her extra effort. My other 2 kids skate by easily with very little effort, but they are NOT receiving top grades. They do well, but not the best. I can assure you those 2 would have NO MOTIVATION whatsoever with the “standards” on the current report card at CLE. If 70% and 95% yield the same result, who would? I think even my super driven oldest might lighten up with these standards!

  23. Donna Ballas

    Sounds like you’re ready to join parents from across the country who are waking up to the reality of common core and the corporate takeover of our public schools. It only gets worse. Please consider checking the attached website for additional information. I am an educator in Marion County with 35 years experience and I can assure you this path has not been chosen by your child’s teachers or even the local school boards. This is a national movement that has pretty much been forced upon the states through education funding. If you really wish to become informed on this subject, I can also recommend Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. We may not be feeling the privatization aspect in West Virginia yet, but it’s all part of the same movement, beginning with high stakes testing and adoption of common core.

    Diane Ravitch, President
    The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society.

    Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, and share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education.
    Dear Friends,

    The Network for Public Education has received a very positive response, and we are building alliances with grassroots groups across the nation. If you know of any who have not signed up, please tell them how to find us.

    You know what we oppose: High-stakes testing; privatization of public education; mass school closures to save money or to facilitate privatization; demonization of teachers; lowering of standards for the education profession; for-profit management of schools.

    Here is what we support:

    We support schools that offer a full and rich curriculum for all children, including the arts, physical education, history, civics, foreign languages, literature, mathematics, and the sciences.
    We support schools that are subject to democratic control by members of their community.
    We support schools that have the resources that their students need, such as guidance counselors, social workers, librarians, and psychologists.
    We support the equitable funding of schools, with extra resources for those students with the greatest needs.
    We support schools that have reasonable class sizes, so that teachers have the time to help the children in their care.
    We support early childhood education, because we know that the achievement gap begins before the first day of school.
    We support high standards of professionalism for teachers, principals, and superintendents.
    We support the principle that every classroom should be led by a teacher who is well educated, well prepared for the challenges of teaching, and certified.
    We support wraparound services for children, such as health clinics and after-school programs.
    We support assessments that are used to support children and teachers, not to punish or stigmatize them or to hand out monetary rewards.
    We support assessments that measure what was taught, through projects and activities in which students can demonstrate what they have learned.
    We support the evaluation of teachers by professionals, not by unreliable test scores.
    We support helping schools that are struggling, not closing them.
    We support parent involvement in decisions about their children.
    We support the idea that students’ confidential information must remain confidential and not be handed over to entrepreneurs and marketing agents.
    We support teacher professionalism in decisions about curriculum, teaching methods, and selection of teaching materials.
    We support public education because it is a pillar of our democratic society.


    President: Diane Ravitch

    Executive Director: Robin Hiller

    Secretary: Phyllis Bush

    Treasurer: Anthony Cody

    Director: Colleen Doherty Wood

    Director: Bertis Downs

    Director: Leonie Haimson

    Director: Mark Miller

    Director: Julian Vasquez Heilig

  24. ben

    So once you get a grade of MS does that mean you don’t have to go to class the rest of the year?

  25. Brian

    Happily, Trinity Christian School still uses the common sense standards of A, B, C, D and when need be F.

  26. Nicki Michael

    First, let me state a few things that I believe are happening in the school system(s). Teachers are bombarded every year with some “new” way to teach and test the students. Teachers cannot TEACH anymore. You have to do this assessment and that assessment and you have to make sure you get 30 minutes of computer time for this program and 30 minutes of computer time for that program, it’s not about teaching kids to learn anymore. It’s about some new program that someone developed that they are sure is better. They convince someone it is the greatest thing ever and the education system falls hook line and sinker for it.
    Some of the greatest minds in the world and some of the greatest inventions of the world came from the “old way” of teaching. You know, the one where the teacher was in front of the classroom and actually taught. They were not constantly getting ready for some test to determine where each school, county or state ranked against other school, counties and states.
    You can’t reward any student for going above and beyond anymore because you might hurt someone’s feelings. You can’t point a high achiever out and say “look what happens when you apply yourself and work hard” because the student that has been handed everything without ever having to work for it goes home and tells Mommy or Daddy and then it’s on.
    I work in one of the local school systems, believe me 8 out of 10 parents need a heavy dose of reality. Parents need to start being parents! They need to prepare their children for the reality of the real world. When it is time for the child that you have ill prepared for the real world to go out into the real world, Mommy and Daddy can’t call their precious babies new boss and say “Johnny didn’t get all his work finished because he was tired and had a belly ache so we just let him stay home”.
    You wouldn’t believe the parents that have told myself and other teachers in the school I work in that we expect too much from their kid. Not that they as parents don’t expect more, that we expect too much.
    My husband has coached sports for years. He has had some great teams and has had some not so great teams. But I will never forget the mother who asked if we were getting trophies at the end of the year. I asked her for what and she asked me what I meant. I said we didn’t win anything. We lost in the tournament and didn’t even finish in the top 3 in the team rankings before the tournament. She said “so they should still get a trophy” . And that ladies and gentlemen is what the school system is now becoming.

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