January 3, 2016

Don't rich kids deserve F grades too?

Matt Amaral, Teach for Real - The average GPA last year of freshmen accepted into my alma mater UC Davis was a 3.9-4.2. My freshmen just went there on a field trip where they were told, not so gently, that if they see a C on your transcript they essentially throw it away. And that is UC Davis! I’m not even talking about Cal Berkeley, UCLA, or Stanford. Colleges are getting harder and harder to get into at the same time they are getting more and more expensive. This puts a premium on every single grade on a kid’s transcript.

With that in mind, if your job depends on sending all your high school students to college, what that means is you can’t be giving them Cs and Ds in high school. So the answer to the above query—What happens when these kids start getting Cs or Ds?—is simple: You don’t give them Cs or Ds, and you certainly don’t give them Fs.

Let me put it to you a little more bluntly so you understand what I’m saying: Poor kids in public schools are the only ones actually being graded in this country.

This charter school revolution seems to be more of the same. Every charter school’s goal is to have amazing college going rates, however, the only way kids get into college is to have amazing GPAs. I’m not the first one to point this out, but we know what happens when students start failing in charter schools: They are told they are not the right fit, they are pressured to leave so they do not drag down their test scores or college going rates, and they end up in my classroom at the public school. This is the basic problem behind both the private and charter model, is that the investors and administrators have a vested, financial interest in student success, so that students who don’t succeed are kicked out, or passed along with good grades. Common sense must conclude that in a group of 500 teenagers it cannot be true that ALL of them are committed to school, trying their hardest, and ready for college—that is preposterous. We’re talking about teenagers!

The idea that a school sends 98% of its students to college is disingenuous to me. Are we really to believe that ALL rich kids are trying their hardest? ALL of them are engaged in school and NONE of them are into drugs, are fed up with math, or feel like giving up. Do rich kids never have bad days?

The fact is, rich kids do more drugs than poor kids. Rich kids are just as likely to think school sucks, to hate math, to be bored and checked out in class, to talk back to their teachers and to be lazy. There is even some evidence that shows they are more likely to have psychological problems. Teachers I know who work at rich schools say this. But they also say this: “If I give out too many Bs and Cs, I have the principal in my room the next day.” This is called Grade Inflation, and it is inequality at its worst



LarryC said...

I agree, grad inflation is real. I also advocate for a dissolution of the 'grouping' metrics kept in any school. I don't think records should reflect a student's socio economic status. It should reflect whether they are meeting expectations or not, and if they're not, they should receive more attention in helping to correct their problem. But the tone of this article i do not agree with. I have seen no metrics to suggest what you assert. How do you know that 'rich' kids are getting a pass relative to 'poor' kids. There are those who would suggest just the opposite. If you want to track a metric, follow the student's progress and see if their grades there reflect what their high school grades showed. If not, then maybe there is a problem at the high school, but to say its at 'rich' kids schools is disingenuous at best. There are 'not so rich' students in charter schools because their parents are willing to sacrifice so their children can get out of what has been turned into public reformatory schools. Public schools and their attendant politicians and administrators focus on diversity and multiculturalism, throwing money at the problem which ends up in the administrators and politicians pockets. Focus on studies, individuals students, and track them in college in you're really concerned. Telling teachers to stop grade inflation is never going to happen if they're held responsible for a student's failure due to factors beyond the teachers control.

wellbasically said...

Make suburban schools as bad as the inner city! great solution