Home > Uncategorized > Amateur Educators Strike Again

Amateur Educators Strike Again

May 13, 2013

Once again, the state’s purveyors of education policy (legislators) and their chief backers (the Oklahoman) are treading into subjects they don’t understand. This time it’s minimum grading policies.

Some districts have adopted a minimum grade that can be recorded for students – such as 50 percent – on assignments. While many teachers working under such policies don’t like them, others have found that such rules give students a chance to dig their way out of a hole. The numerical distance from a zero to 60 – the typical minimum passing score – is so much greater than the intervals between other letter grades that one dismal grade will sometimes outweigh five great ones.

On May 8, HB 1313 failed in the House. Today, they plan to bring it back. Here’s the CCOSA alert:

On Monday, May 13th the Oklahoma House of Representatives is likely to reconsider the failure of HB 1313.  HB 1313, which failed on May 8th but was held for reconsideration, would require your local board of education to adopt a uniform grading policy that would prohibit administrators from placing restrictions on teachers that use grading as a form of classroom management.

HB 1313 must be heard on Monday or the vote from May 8th will stay in place.

Please contact your State Representative TODAY and ask them to OPPOSE HB 1313!

HB 1313 operates in the face of research pertaining to grading reform that has been conducted by Dr. Doug Reeves and Dr. Robert Marzano.

Reeves, D. (2008). Effective grading. Educational Leadership, 65(5), 85 – 87.

“Contrast these effective (grading) practices with three commonly used grading policies that are so ineffective they can be labeled as toxic. First is the use of zeroes for missing work. Despite evidence that grading as punishment does not work (Guskey, 2000) and the mathematical flaw in the use of the zero on a 100-point scale (Reeves, 2004), many teachers routinely maintain this policy in the mistaken belief that it will lead to improved student performance. Defenders of the zero claim that students need to have consequences for flouting the teacher’s authority and failing to turn in work on time. They’re right, but the appropriate consequence is not a zero; it’s completing the work—before, during, or after school, during study periods, at “quiet tables” at lunch, or in other settings.”

HB 1313 interferes with local control in that the bill locks school systems into an archaic grading system that does not allow for local boards of education to adopt grading structures that are based on actual student mastery of course content.

It shouldn’t be the legislature’s job to act in a manner contrary to research and best practice. Let the school districts do that!

Wait…that came out wrong.

Nobody is for giving students a free ride. The standard for mastery remains intact. An A is still measured at 90 percent, a B at 80, and so on. We’re just eliminating the devastating effect of a zero.

Or more precisely, we’re allowing local school districts to make decisions about that.

Maybe I shouldn’t tell Representative Enns this, but some schools weight classwork completed at the end of a term more heavily than that which was completed in the beginning of the term. If the effects of learning are cumulative, we should be more interested in what students can do in December than in August (or May rather than January).  The grade should reflect what the student knows and has learned. Nothing else.

I’ve actually had conversations on Twitter with readers of this blog who disagree with me on this point. I respect their position, but I also believe the larger issue is that the legislature is attempting to regulate methodology. Teachers will not always agree with their administrators or school boards. Typically though, they’ll have more faith in those individuals than state representatives who dictate practice in absentia.

Please take the time to educate yourself. Here’s a link to the legislation. If you’re so inclined, call your legislator this morning.

Thank you.

  1. Jason Midkiff
    May 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

    It just baffles me how the legislature moves around local control based on what they want. Biggest defenders of it one bill and then trample it 30 minutes later on another bill.


    • May 13, 2013 at 8:28 am

      That should’ve been the first paragraph of my post this morning!


  2. May 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    The same legislators putting forward these micromanaging, bureaucracy-creating bills claim to be in favor of smaller government.


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