MAKING THE GRADE

This past week, my daughter, who is in the eighth grade carried an ‘A’ into her final exam.  She studied hard the night before.  I saw index cards all over her bed, her textbook was open and her notes were spread out.  On the day of the exam, she didn’t do too well.  Her overall grade dropped.  When she received her results, she was visibly upset.  But she’s a strong kid so she quickly recovered.

I will never understand the obsession with “test results” and examinations for young children in this country. Sorry, it’s how I feel.

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The poor kid does well in all her classes and works hard the entire semester but her final grade boils down to one test? Or a chunk of her grade for that matter.   Sorry, but that doesn’t make sense to me.

Enough of the rant on the educational system, that’s not what this entry is about.

I don’t know about you, but I used to get “test anxiety” leading up to exams.  The worst was during the test, as soon as the other students finished and would get up to hand in their paper, I always felt like the pressure was on and that I had to hurry up before the class was over. Stupid, I know.

Anyway, back in the day when I was a student at Holy Name of Jesus there was a kid that got straight A’s on his report card.  It must have been the fifth grade, maybe sixth.  One day after they handed out the report cards I looked across the classroom and this straight ‘A’ student was crying.  I walked over to him and asked him why he was so upset?

“My mother is going to kill me?”

I looked at him, trying not to laugh and noticed the tears coming down his face and dripping onto the desk in front of him.

“Why, did you get left back or something?”

The kid looked up sobbing.

“No, I got a ‘B’ in Math.”

I shook my head and raised my eyebrows.

“You got a ‘B’ in Math and your mother is going to kill you?”

The frustration on the kids face was showing as he shook his head, got up and walked away.

Can you imagine that?  The kid was crying because he got a ‘B’ in Math and his mom was going to kill him!

I used to get C’s, D’s and a few F’s during my eight years at Holy Name. I wasn’t a very good student.  I forgot to do homework, missed school often and was tardy at least once a week.  If they kept track, I probably spent more time than any other student on the bench outside the principal’s office.

The one time I did get an ‘A’ was in Miss Hertel’s eighth grade English class.  I was so happy the entire day.  After playing basketball in the yard after school I went home and had dinner.  It was a Friday night so Prospect Park was our hangout.  I celebrated by getting drunk on a bottle of vodka…straight-up! No orange juice either.

Respectfully,

Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

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5 Responses to MAKING THE GRADE

  1. jimmyvac says:

    LOL.. i had a kid in Drivers Ed who had a 97 average.. I joked with her that there is room for improvement and she said that is what my father said but he was serious… I believe grades are important but it is the body of work that should determine the grade. I had teachers in high school and college that used the final as a determining factor anywhere from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. I think 20 per cent is correct because homeowrk, participation and other exams should be weighed heavily in their own right.
    When I coached basketball in a league that was one day a week, no practices, I had to have a long talk with the mother who was concerned about the time that the game was taking away from her game’s studies.
    I think grades are important but kids need to be well rounded too…. sports, hobbies, and of course time for the drinking of vodka to celebrate.

  2. Glenn Thomas says:

    If I may chime in…there’s a battle that is being waged across this country regarding tests being used as the “end all” so to speak. Standardized exams in NYS seem to be the deciding factor in not only a child’s grade but also whether a child is promoted to the next grade or not. I agree with you Steve that a final exam should be part of the portfolio of a student’s grade and should be weighed as only a part. Teachers here in the NYC system are under pressure to have their students pass the NYS ELA and Math exams that these teachers can’t or won’t teach anything else out of fear but teach to the test by doing nothing but test prep non stop. The whole idea of every student scoring high on an exam and that is the only determining factor is ridiculous. I am not talking medical school or a bar exam here. Not every student will score a level 3 or a level 4 on these exams in NYS but that person one day might be the auto mechanic that fixes one’s car or pulled you out of a burning building. ( Not to say that mechanics or firemen can’t score high but just a hypothetical example) Young children today and even teens have already enough pressure in their lives and this anxiety only adds to it. One final thing is that the companies that make and provide these exams for all the states and school districts are making millions and millions of dollars in contracts such as the one in Princeton, NJ that makes the SAT Exam. For years they would never admit that their test was flawed in fearing that they’d lose their billions in contracts and who suffers? Our children. A child should be graded and judged by a portfolio of things and not overwhelmingly by an exam for that’s not a true indicator of what that child is capable of and what they can become in life.

  3. jimmyvac says:

    Cuz,
    My sister says the same thing. She is teaching 5th & 6th grade science and states it stifles the teacher’s creativity to teach a class when the huge shadow of the tests is there. I am glad the pressure for my kids (24 and 25) was not as much. I admired some of the assignments they had such as interviewing family members who remember JFK’s assassination and
    funeral.
    Steven, does your local school system have the same testing that
    Glenn mentioned?

  4. Karen Artz Shanley says:

    Right there with you Glenn. These state tests are out of hand. There is a FB page “opt out of state testing – ny” which has a lot of helpful information about these state tests. The only people who benefit from these tests are the companies that produce the tests.

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