2006-02-02 / Letters to the Editor

Grading issue

I have raised my family to not use the word “stupid” freely. When any crass word is used, I am of the ilk to have them defend its use and why something is so.

The issue of the grading system in the Jamestown Schools is not a new one. It has been the subject of mockery and derision in many occasions of which I have been a part, both socially and formal school settings. After yet another report card “discussion” with my two sons still in the system, the “word” surfaced . . . poignantly — and I condone its use.

Is a nine a B? “If my overall average is a 9.125, why aren’t I on the honor roll?” Eight “meets the standard with consistency.” What does that mean? And what do you actually need to do to get a 10? Frankly, I am sick of the conversations. They don’t get it. After 8 years, I don’t get it.

This begs the question (perhaps) that the grading system is instigating great conversation about school between parents and kids. I don’t think so, and here’s why. I posit that the “grades” obfuscate at least 50 percent of meaningful interaction because I am trying to figure out what the heck the grades mean and how they apply to our kids in relation to the rest of the world. The paradox of a standards-based system and not being able to figure out what those standards are, to me, is ridiculous. Sure, I take this quarterly opportunity to have our talk about study habits, work ethic, classroom politics, getting the most out of your ability, the pursuit of excellence . . . overall achievement . . . self-esteem. I guess this would happen with this or any other grading system.

Parenting won’t stop, but I must say that the “system” does nothing to enable a concrete frame of reference. I want to add my voice to the already loud chorus and state that I am perplexed by the grading system and that I concur with my kid’s use of the “word.”

I only have one more year of agony with this. Nothing is bound to happen while I am directly affected. invite the administration and school board to revisit the standard “standard” of A’s, B’s and C’s with cumulative GPA’s. Although the current system may be a cutting-edge innovation from the educators’ perspective, it is time to recognize that is a failure in the eyes of parents and students, and it should be changed.

Richard Spahr


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