Grade fabrication is worse than grade inflation. Which is worse - the fact that the education system is lying about a child who can't walk and can't say his parent's names -- by giving the child A's in higher level subjects like Algebra and science -- or the system that forces education to go down the road from failing to farce. Not every student is an A student. Period. We need age appropriate, fair measures. I think this article exposes a larger problem. I have a teacher friend that talked to me several years back - she was in a local public school system. The principal told her that her F's HAD to become C's and her C's needed to move up and thus on down the line. She said she wouldn't do it, that she'd give the principal her gradebook and he could lie, but she wouldn't. So, this doesn't surprise me. Honesty and character are what you do when no one is looking -- but the fact that the Gwinett County school system can't even own up when people are looking is bothersome as well. Something is rotten and it isn't in the state of Denmark... does this bother anyone else? "My goal isn't to have him do Algebra I right now. My goal is to have him walk," DeWeese told WSBTV. "I would love to hear him say 'mom' or 'dad,' but I know that's probably never going to happen." DeWeese's concerns aren't ungrounded. Teachers and administrators across subjects have crumbled under increasing pressure to demonstrate improved student performance. A report last month found that as many as one in five teachers in Kansas and neighboring states reports science grades on student report cards without actually teaching or testing students on the subject.
Dave Parry at @academhack talks about the Dunbar number for educating. he thinks his number is 50-60 students. I am in a high school/ middle school and I am up close to 100 and feel that I have meaningful interactions with that many, however, I am around them all day long - see them at lunch, games, etc. So, I could understand how that number may be lower for a college professor. Great question worth asking and perhaps researching based upon these anecdotal conversations. Read more on his blog: "But this got me to wondering what is the Dunbar number for instruction. That is at any one time what is the number of students I can interact with, what is the cognitive limit of the number of students I can maintain and have a consistent interaction with. I think we can all agree that the fewer the students the more time I have to spend with each, and versa visa, the more students the less time I can spend with each. But I am hypothesizing about something slightly different here. What is the educational cognitive load? What is the Dunbar number for instruction? At what point do the edges start to fray and do I lose track of the students I am interacting with over the course of a semester? So here’s my guess, and this is just a starting point. I think my Dunbar number for instruction is about 45-60. That is over the course of a semester I can handle about 45-60 in classes and still interact with them, become invested in them, and try to treat each (as much as possible) as an individual who is having an educational experience in which I play a role. Keep that number under 60 and I pretty much “know” all of my students. If someone walks into my office and says “How is Steven doing this semester?” I know about his semester. How he is doing. How he is engaging the material, and probably some additional material about where he is at with in the program and what interests him. Keep that number under 60 and I think that is true of all of my students. But as that number rises over 60 I start to lose the ability to “keep all the students in my head.” That is I start to lose track of some, they disappear, fade into the background. I can keep tabs on most but I end up focusing on the ones who need challenging, or the ones who are struggling, and some in the middle get lost under the weight of too many students.
I have to say - @profhacker ROCKS. In this week's round up (something I always try to read) he points to an article questioning what the "Dunbar number is for teaching." The Dunbar number is number that hypothetically, is the maximum number you can meaningfully have interactions - really, the number of "friends" you can have and those people be REAL friends -- or at least acquaintances. This question is an important one -- if we can find the "Dunbar number for teaching" then we could structure class sizes and course loads to not exceed that maximum - at least if we care about real teaching. It could at least give us a litmus test to determine if organizations really care about good teaching. We know that smaller class sizes are better - but if we can MEANINGFULLY interact - in these times, wouldn't we look at that upper limit as a sort of maximum number? I will link to the other article as well, but wanted to point out profhacker just because the blog ROCKS.
I need to get my daughter to translate this very cool trailer for a project for teachers - very cool. Why don't we make trailers to start school years and projects? We could even end a project by having kids make trailers for the next participants. Cool.