Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Credit Recovery

What do schools do with the laziest students? Online courses are one answer. "Learn at your own pace" and "21st Century Student" and "We're just trying to teach him at his own level" are tossed out defensively.

I was standing at the end-of-year picnic when the kid came by with a physical science test. The guidance counselor said he had to pass it in order to get credit. The answer he had given was apparently wrong on this one question. I looked at it - badly written, very vague, but not too hard if you were clear on the concept.

Here's the kicker, though. He had taken this same test before and he was angry at the online teacher for getting this MC question wrong. Kid didn't feel the teacher had explained things well. Maybe, maybe not. This kid was no "house afire" intellectually and wasn't trying to learn anything.

In between explanations of Newton's 3rd Law, I asked about the test. He'd taken it before. Same test. Same 30 MC questions. After getting the explanation from me, he corrected the paper. Since the guidance counselor was standing there with us, I naturally figured that he was going to retake the test. Nope. That correction and the others he did over the next 30 minutes with help from anyone they could find had apparently filled in the "learning" checkbox. The new grade, with my answers, was the one that stuck. (perhaps I misspelled that: the one that STUNK)

How about that?

MC questions for every test. Taken over time, allowing for book review or blatant cheating. Retake with the same questions when you can look back at the old answers and narrow down the possibilities. Course taken at your own pace. This is even worse, in my mind, than the kid falling asleep in class and failing, but having an administrative override. At least that acknowledges that the kid hadn't done anything.

"Preparing him for life?" "Teaching to the 21st century student?"

My butt.

The quote from the Washington Post, which is what set off this rant and reminded me of that kid at the picnic: “Bria was struggling on a world history quiz, the same 10-question, multiple-choice quiz she had taken five times.”

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