A blog that tackles issues on basic education (in the Philippines and the United States) including early childhood education, the teaching profession, math and science education, medium of instruction, poverty, and the role of research and higher education.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Should We Give "Zero" As A Grade?
"How does allowing a student to opt out of a program to provide him or her with assistance teach responsibility? If a student is truly going to enter a sink-or-swim situation in higher education, the best preparation is to teach the student to swim — to provide the student with the knowledge, skills and habits essential to success in that situation — rather than allow the student to sink first in high school", Richard DuFour writes in his book In Praise of American Educators: And How They Can Become Even Better. Jay Mathews of the Washington Post took notice of this statement and called it "brilliant" in his column on education. But there is one comment that caught my attention on Mathews' article. Part of it says "We make too many excuses in modern America, we give too many second chances. Penalties and consequences exist for a reason. Carrots alone don't work, you need the stick too. And sometimes people need to hit bottom before they get better. There is nothing more pernicious in education than this self-esteem crap and we need to get rid of that and start making our kids stronger by telling them the truth when they're messing up." Hitting rock bottom is one of those sound bites often used by some to give advice for recovery. It is a wrong advice. Even with drug addiction, David Sheff says, "Waiting for someone to hit rock bottom is a dangerous concept. Experts advise parents of it, but the reality is that studies show people who are coerced into treatment by way of their parents or even the legal system have an equal chance of doing well as those who ‘choose’ to be there." Hope presupposes a glimpse of success and can not emanate from unmitigated darkness.
Basic education is an appropriate place for second chances, even third or fourth ones. Skills required to overcome challenges in later life need to be developed in the elementary and high school years. Most of these skills are not acquired the first time they are taught. DuFour is correct in emphasizing that opportunities should be given to students to foster these skills. Giving a student a "zero" does not teach anything especially if all it does is to close doors of opportunity. The fact is some students do sink in college. And research shows that at this stage of education, interventions designed to help struggling students often do not work.
In a paper published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers find that neither self-esteem bolstering nor boosting self-control and responsibility help students struggling in college.
As the above abstract suggests, such interventions actually correlate with even lower academic performance. But what is important to see in this work is that the correlation between a positive attitude, responsibility, and self control, and good academic performance is most probably a cause and effect relationship, but not in the direction we normally presume. The reason behind the correlation is that good academic performance often boosts one's self-esteem, sense of responsibility, and self control. And perhaps, only when this happens at least once in this direction that the reverse direction, self-esteem boosting academic performance work can occur. DuFour is correct in emphasizing that we give elementary and high school students ample opportunities to develop habits, skills and knowledge to overcome setbacks. This, of course, is possible only with second chances.
With the new K to 12 curriculum in the Philippines, various tracks are now offered in the last two years of basic education. The various options available obviously make it possible for students to find themselves later unprepared for the courses they decide to take in college. A student, for instance, who finishes the accounting business management (ABM) strand in the senior high school academic track, is now required to take additional courses if the student chooses to enroll in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) major in college. These additional courses which are now called "bridging programs" are either taken during the first year of college or over several weeks in the summer before college starts.
There are bridging programs in the United States, but these are different from the ones that are now appearing in colleges in the Philippines. In Coldwater High School in Michigan, for example, the "bridging program" is an option for students…
There is information to be gained from data. Tests in schools can be informative. Scores of students provide a quick glimpse of the current state of education. Thus, it is useful to have these numbers. These numbers may not tell everything in detail with high accuracy. Nevertheless, test results allow for a useful perspective. The National Achievement Test administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines, a set of standardized tests addressing the major subjects taught in school, is an example. These tests are given to Grade 3 where students are assessed in both English and Filipino (These two subjects comprise two thirds of the exam) and Math and Science (These two account for the remaining one third). A different set of tests is given to Grade 6 pupils where each of the following 5 subjects is assigned 40 items: (Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies). Another set is administered to fourth year high school students (This is currently the last year…
My spouse and I have spent the largest fraction of our lives in this community called Annandale. Last night, my wife help organized a march. In the words of another resident, James Albright: "First protest I have ever known of in Annandale. Hundreds upon hundreds protesting in front of Mason District police station". We did not expect a very large crowd, yet hundreds of families from Annandale came, which actually made social distancing very challenging. It started with a march along Columbia Pike from Barcroft Center to the Mason District Police Station. Inside the parking lot of the police station, people knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time a police officer knelt on George Floyd during his final moments. Afterwards, the people, adults and children, of Annandale spoke up.
Names of African Americans brutally killed by the police were read by the son of Ricardy Anderson, Mason District representative to the Fairfax County School Board. Ander…