Teaching Masters

Updated: Apr 20

A teacher showing a student how to master reading

I, personally, think the current grading system needs to be destroyed. I know, I know...this sounds radically. But let's honestly talk about the grading system for a minute.

A teacher, typically, has around 20 students in a class. These students may be reading on levels anywhere from K-3rd grade (I have had this in a 2nd grade classroom). Math levels often follow a similar range of skills.

You have to ask yourself, how are all of these kids in the same grade? They don't have the same understanding or skill level. The answer is...because they are all the same age because they all started school at the same time, AND because our grading system is flawed.

See, as long as a kid scores above 70% they are moved on to the next grade level. How does this make sense? If I only teach 70% of the time, do I get a promotion? No. I get fired.

The idea that getting the correct answer 70% of the time is enough is absolutely ridiculous. That means that 30% of the time, these students have no clue what they are doing.

This is what ends up happening when students are passed on with 70% proficiency.

First grade teachers ask the kindergarten teachers, "Didn't you teach long vowel sounds? Half my kids don't know the vowel sounds." This long suffering teacher takes time to reteach vowel sounds and moves along her 70% proficient students.

The 2nd grade teachers says, "These students can barely sound out words. How are they supposed to answer questions about the text." This teacher does the best they can and moves on the 70% proficient students.

The 3rd grade teacher declares, "We have a third grade reading gap. Most of our students are below grade level and will have to be retained." In other words, these students are now below 70% proficient.

In his Ted Talk Let's teach for mastery-not test scores, Sal Khan compares this concept to building a house. If you keep adding levels to a house that does not have a firm foundation, the house will eventually fall.

This concept was really driven home when I had my girls. I would never move them on to new material when they were only 70% proficient. We will keep practicing until they get it. Don't our students deserve this same diligence?

Now, do not get me wrong right here. I am not blaming teachers (although we all know their are teachers out there who are not worthy of the title Educator). No teacher can take 20 students who came on all different levels and make them all proficient by the end of the year. Not with all the paperwork, schedule demands, behavior problem, and ten thousand other disturbances.

No, I am blaming the system. Students should not be shuffled on because they made the minimum score because I don't want them to have a minimum education and neither should you.

We need to get on board with investing in our future (kids) even if that means overhauling the traditional system.

I have ideas on how to do this, but they will be included in my book and y'all are just gonna have to wait...

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