Stop the planet! I want off!

Well, we go from one Texas Independent School District to another. Tip of the Stetson to Tolewyn for the heads-up.

Frankly, I’m not really sure what to think of this story. Mainly because the subject of the story is so astronomically asinine that I truly have a great deal of difficulty fully wrapping my mind around it.

But, we shall make the attempt anyway.

The Dallas Independent School District has decided that their 20% drop-out rate amongst DISD high school freshmen is a wee bit of a problem and have decided to go about fixing things.

To me, the first step in fixing something is usually to find out why it needs fixing.

In this case, apparently 80% of the DISD 2007 class of freshmen scored below the 40th percentile on the Iowa Test of Educational Development in — you’ll be shocked by this, I know — reading.

Allow me to illustrate this: in 2007, of each 100 freshmen who took this test, 61 of them read better than four out of every five DISD freshmen.

Yet, 98% of DISD freshmen were graduated from 8th grade the previous year.

Gentle Readers, if you can’t get 8 out of each ten of your 9th graders to reach at least the mid-level mediocrity of the 50th percentile in reading — you have a serious problem on your paws.

Period. Full stop. End of discussion.

So. If I were to attempt to fix this problem, I would find out why these incoming freshmen were unable to read — yet allowed to graduate — and institute steps to increase reading ability while refusing to allow illiterate students to advance.

Controversial, I know.

Anyhoo, it is readily apparent that I am not an employee for the Dallas Independent School District, because those worthies have decided that what is required is actually something called “effort-based grading“.

And what students really need, are “multiple opportunities to demonstrate that they’ve mastered class material.”

CrankyProf, close your eyes.

Check that — Cranky, you should probably scoot over to some website with a variety of soft music. And kittens. Lots of kittens.

Under “effort-based grading” if a student turns in homework, and the grade received on said homework would lower the students grade point average — well, that homework grade does not count. Only homework grades that raise the students GPA are to be recorded.

If a DISD student fails an exam, the teacher MUST allow the student to retake the exam, and the higher of the two grades will be the official grade.

If a DISD student misses a deadline on turning in an assignment, the teacher MUST accept the late assignment with no penalty to the student. If the teacher believes that a penalty for late work is appropriate, that teacher must inform the school principal, who will make the decision as to if a penalty is actually appropriate, and if so, the principal will set the penalty.

No DISD student will receive a grade of zero for any reason, unless the teacher contacts the parents of the student, and efforts made to assist the student in completing the work.

A grade of fifty is the lowest grade that may be recorded in a six weeks average for a DISD student.

*blink, blink*

How is this fuzzy-bunny, cotton-candy-pink happyland bushwa supposed to prepare student to earn a living?

I hate to tell the idiots running the Dallas Independent School District, but Real Life isn’t “effort-based”.

This is how Dallas prepares our children to compete in the marketplace? In the Global marketplace?

By teaching them that there are no penalties for cocking about? By teaching them that half-arsing a project is just as good as making the effort to do it right the first time?

Several million Chinese children and almost as many Indian children are being taught to excel, taught to succeed, taught to win — and this is our response?

Why are the citizens of Dallas allowing their DISD superintendent to teach their children to fail?

And why has he not been burned in effigy on the DISD HQ front lawn?

Can someone tell me this?


Next time I'll keep my mush shut
Happy 101st.

75 thoughts on “Stop the planet! I want off!”

  1. Another question is how many teachers can they get to teach there? If I were a teacher and this policy came down, my resignation would follow.

  2. I’m impressed. Not only have they created a system virtually impossible to flunk out of, but penalizes any student who wants to excel.

    Because we all know the true measure of education is how many people have an official piece of paper in hand and not the actual scope and depth of knowledge imparted.

  3. That’s how my child’s school is.

    I make my kids finish their assignments and redo bad work even though the school says fuggetaboutit.

    All of these programs are not in place to help students…they are to help the district not get penalized for doing a crappy job of teaching.

    When I entered college the freshman comp 101 failure rate was 55%. Instead of going back and telling high schools to teach the kids to read and write, colleges now offer no credit remedial reading and writing classes.

    This allows the student to continue to take college courses even though they have not even the most basic skills required to do university level work.

  4. A 50 is the lowest grade that can be recorded? Oh, hell, LawDog, the school district I worked for from 1998 to 2003 has already been doing this. This, unfortunately, is nothing new.

    This is the ‘We don’t care what they know, we just want it to look good’ approach.

    I still got lectured to about my ‘failure’ rate, btw.

    Which is why I no longer teach in public education.

    Amy in Southeast Texas

  5. It is a lot easier then fixing the real problem. Fixing the real problem would involve admitting the little kiddies need to spend more time learning to read, and less time learning about recycling, multi- culturalism, self esteem improvement. It would also entail less attending of assemblies on environmentalism, tolerance, and self esteem boosting. Worse case scenario, after all of this is done, you might find yourself also having to eliminate all the special classes dedicated to loving the earth, social injustice, and self-esteem.

  6. Uh, I think 20% of the freshmen dropping out indicates another problem.

    Last I knew you had to be 16 to formally drop out of school. Maybe things are different in Texas, but if that’s actually true, then at least 20% of the freshmen are coming into the school year already a year behind where they should have been.

  7. And people wonder why intelligent people no longer want to teach. This goes right along with Slick Willie’s brainwashing of Americans to excuse, blame, compromise. When Dog was in school, he quite often didn’t do his homework. I finally went to the teachers and asked them to inform me when he had homework and what it was, and to tell me if he didn’t do it. Well, some of them tried to do that, but they put a note in an envelope and gave it to HIM to bring to me.
    And these dumbasses were supposed to be teaching my kid?
    So when I went up to the school to try and do something about it, half the teachers blamed ME for not making him do the homework about which I knew nothing and the other half made excuses for HIM.
    When you’ve got a kid who can get by with this sort of crap in his school and the teachers won’t cooperate, there’s a far larger problem than a lazy, rebellious child.
    It seems educators have ‘progressed’ further down that same road. All educational psychologists should be hung by their thumbs.

  8. Lawmom, the whole mess sounds good to me…

    Take test #1, ace it, then take off until I have to take test #3… And so on…

    I was one of those lowlife students who read the textbooks the first week of class, and who then called the teachers on it every time they screwed up…

  9. It makes you wonder if the requirements are that lax for making the cut for the football team…

  10. I thought it was legal to beat hippies in Texas if you just drug them into your house afterwards.

  11. It’s called “passing the trash”. It’s not new. The problem is, the folks who would now be passed along, would in times passed, drop out and get unskilled jobs. They can’t do that now, the unskilled jobs have gone away.

    The question is, what should we do for folks who don’t do well in school? You can’t get a job with an eighth-grade education that requires more than “do you want fries with that?” No mill jobs. No grunt jobs. No path for the able but uneducated–doesn’t mean they’ll take it, but it used to be there.

  12. *Bangs head into desk. Rinses off newsprint. Repeats.*

    I wonder if I can lock DISD alumni out of my global issues classes. ‘Cause, you know, reading is kind of critical to figuring out how the world works…

  13. Oh DEAR LORD.

    Shoot me. Shoot me now.

    (My word verification was “okcra.” I love “okcra,” fried in cornmeal batter. Yum.)

  14. Dateline: 1994. My daughter is in the fourth grade. She keeps bringing home worksheets prepared by her teacher that contain multiple misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. I dare to have a problem with this. The final straw was when she brought home a list of spelling words with one of the words misspelled! I went to the principal about it, and he had the unmitigated gall to say to me:

    “We have to excuse Ms. N. She’s a local girl, and didn’t have the benefit of a good education”.

    He actually said that to me!

    When I pointed out that by allowing her to teach he was perpetuating the problem, he responded that she had tenure, and his hands were tied.

  15. Quote:
    And why has he not been burned in effigy on the DISD HQ front lawn?

    Burned, BS! Get a rope!

  16. Only in effigy? You’re getting soft in your old age Law Dog. 🙂

    My wife is a teacher and runs into this sort of thing all the time. In fact she was not rehired by one system because she refused to give kids A’s when they only did C level work.

    In her current system she is not to correct spelling or grammar errors on papers her students turn in. That’s only to be done by English teachers.

    My wife and I used to joke that the problem with the school system our kids went to was that they mistook mediocrity for excellence. DISD isn’t even that good.

    A lot of the blame lies with parents that accept this. If you put Chinese or Indian kids in the DISD they would top every class in every category. Why? Because their parents wouldn’t accept any less from the kids or the teachers. Which is why all of the top colleges have to put quotas on Asian and Indian students. If they didn’t there wouldn’t be anyone else attending those colleges.

    John Edwards was right, there are two Americas. There’s the one where parents make their kids study so they will succeed and the one where parents don’t care and expect that the government will take care of everything.

  17. Wow- Mediocrity in action!
    Dare to Slack!

    Your tax dollars at work.

    I got poor grades in school (a Few years ago.. lol) due to profound boredom. Like ‘Bogie’ I would read the textbook and then do not much until test time, ace the tests, and squeak through with a C average. I can count change back, triple a reciepe, and read books with big words and no pictures!

    When profoundly bored in class in grade school (due to touchy-feely stupid makework in classroom) I would wander off and spend countless hours in the library reading whatever struck my fancy. Greek mythology, history, sciences, trade magazines, unabridged dictionaries.. whatever.

  18. School Boards:
    They hire the superintendents.
    In Dallas the individual members come from “districts” it makes it real easy for ideologes, crooks, flakes, and combinations to get on it. They are in effect unkown to the general public. It would be better to elect a “Czar” of the schools and then hold him responsible for what goes on. He should have the power to fire anybody in the system who is paid by the taxpayers.

  19. This country is less than one generation away from losing the whole ball of wax.
    Keep your ammo dry. I think we’re gonna need it.

  20. I’m sorry but the following sentence does not make any sense to me:

    “Gentle Readers, if you can’t get 8 out of each ten of your 9th graders to reach at least the mid-level mediocrity of the 50th percentile in reading — you have a serious problem on your paws.”

    That statement reads to me like someone saying “All our kids should be above average.” It’s a statistical non sequitur.

  21. I shared this with my teaching daughter. She said this was why she was finishing her PhD and teaching at the college level instead of K-12. Four years of the DISD kind of dreck was enough.

  22. Years ago, dad always talked about the dumbing down of America.

    I guess DISH is a shining example of what he was talking about.

    Thank God homeschooling is legal….at least for now.

  23. My regrets, sir, but you are asking the wrong question. Much more appropriate would be, “Why are so many parents entrusting their child’s education to government schools?”.

    When the Fabian socialists decided to take over the U.S., their first stop was the educational/pedagogy system. Federalizing local school systems was the next.

    Unfortunately, many private schools are not much better, lagging the destruction of the government school systems by only a decade or two.

    Unless you happen to luck into a marginally good government school system, the ONLY way to educate children is now through home schooling. And looking at the leader in lunatic movement, the state of Kalifornia is starting to block that off as well.

  24. Some years back, found out that when the school achievement tests(to see how well the school was doing) were coming up, the teachers at the kids’ schools were spending a week preparing them for the test. Actually told them “You need to do well on this test so the school looks good.” Using what amounted to stolen copies of the tests to prep them.

    As a couple of people pointed out, this crap isn’t to help the kids; it’s to keep the teachers and administrators out of trouble for not doing their damned jobs.

  25. I can’t believe this! As a retired teacher, I know that would make me either give up and wait for my retirement checks to start, or find another place to teach. What would be the point of assigning any kind of homework or project? What would be the point of grading anything? Have a class discussion and give everyone an A every day! Make your life easy. No more grading homework and papers and quizzes and tests every night. Have a life instead! Who cares if students aren’t learning? Apparently not DISD!

  26. I grew up in Iowa, now I’ve raised my kids in Texas. I had to teach them to read at home. How will this help a drop out rate? Seems to me they should maybe check out the home situation of children that are allowed by the parents to drop out of school!!! How is lowering standards going to keep these kids in school. The teachers are hired to teach, and that is what they should do. Parents need to get back to parenting.

    Oh, and when we took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (that’s what it was called back then) we were never prepared specially for it. No class curriculum was changed to make sure that we passed the test. We were taught our regular lessons and the testing was to make sure that we were able to do lessons according to our grade level. It really sticks in my craw that the kids are taught classes solely to pass a TAKS test.

  27. And you’re surprised – why?When I taught 30 years ago, many middle schools were “promoting” students up to their high schools. The reason was usually that the high schools had a better budget and teachers who could handle the situations the lower grade teachers created. [Note to lower grade teachers: some of you are/were great at your jobs, but there are too many just hanging around, waiting for the retirement check.] When Son and Heir [now a college grad – two majors and “only” a 3.6 cumulative gpa] went to middle school in Colorado, one teacher told us that his spelling, grammar and composition were too good – we needed to let him make errors. He did his senior high school years in a Jesuit hs. Problem is there aren’t enough Jesuits still teaching. [Hint: threaten you child with a military school, then send him/her to a Jesuit school and wait a week before you tell him/her the Jesuits are the church’s army!]
    ‘Dog, be proud of your Mom; she did well for you. OldeForce

  28. No surprise. The only families left in DISD are those too poor or too dumb to leave, and those without school age kids. Our suburban Dallas school does hold the kids accountable. There is too much emphasis on TAKS testing and the history curriculum is a joke but at least reading, math, and science in the AP/Honors courses is decent.

  29. I would advocate papers with working brains in their heads to find employment elsewhere and remove their children from any school district that promotes stupidity and laziness over excellence and hard work.

    If that is not an option, then perhaps home-schooling (which I’m not a big fan of – it depends on the circumstances and the parents who are doing the teaching) or external tutors would be a good idea.

    The parents need to stand up en masse and demand some changes…like horse-whipping that superintendent for starters.

    I worked my behind off in college to keep up with my peers at our science and technology based university. I had to since I was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia. My public elementary, middle, and high schools missed that btw. They told me I was “too stupid” to do math. It was a professor in college who noticed the problem. I’m a scientist now.

  30. anonymous. The answer to your question is a resounding “Yes!” When Dog was in high school there was an excellent footplayer that was dumb as a rock. He scored a 2-yes, that’s a TWO-on his TACS test. Guess who played football right through the season and was graduated? You got it.
    Mpw ask the question if some non=athletic not-too-bright kid is cut the same slack.
    Then there was the school superintendent who cropped all the non-passing grads out of the TACS test before he averaged it and presented it to the school board-and the regional newspaper. I called him on it; I don’t know whether he was more annoyed at being caught out or that his presumption that as a math major, he was more adept at manipulating figures than anyone else in the town. Meedless to say, when I wrote up the story, the school was in the lower 15% of schools its size in the state. It hit the front page. LOL!
    Aside to jeff the baptist: a grade of 50 is average? What school let you out the door? A grade of 50 is, in anyone’s language (except DISD, of course), Failing, not “average.”

  31. DISD is a self-fulfilling prophesy-those who can’t, teach, but they do try to find a way to make the bad news look good. Too bad the word got out.

    DISD, as an organization, should be rated Academically Unacceptable. Start over without the teachers’ unions.

    The bright side: those who are passed out of DISD can always come back and teach! That is a pathway to success!

  32. It’s called the “no child held accountable…” I mean, “no child left behind” act that dear Gee Dubya decided he needed to put into effect. I’ve been less than enthused about it for a few years now, after going rounds with my step-son’s teachers in junior high school here in the Pac NW. The issue isn’t just in Dallas – it’s everywhere the school districts have accepted that lousy act in order to get money from the feds.

    We were told, point-blank, by speedboy’s teachers that he had failed his grade, BUT, since he did so well on his levels tests, they would be putting him through to the next grade. The reason he’d failed? He hadn’t been held accountable for what was supposed to add up to 80% of his grade: Daily work. He wouldn’t turn it in, he’d lose it, he’d destroy it, or otherwise miraculously not manage to turn it in.

    We had tried literally EVERYTHING to keep him from moving forward. Speedboy knew he was held accountable at home for his actions, and we wanted his school to show him that he would be held accountable there, too. They refused. At one point, when we asked them if we could demand that he be held back, we were told that the decision was ultimately up to the principal, and if he didn’t want to deal with the child any further, he’d simply push the child through regardless.

    We found out (after the fact) that the school was on it’s last chance with the feds because they’d flunked the previous 4 years. They had a final chance to make their quota of “graduates”, or they’d be taken over by the feds and everyone would be replaced. So, rather than expect that their students do the work, they simply passed them through for a good-looking number.

    Utterly despise public schools, and if I had my way, I’d be home-schooling my new baby girl once she’s old enough.

  33. WTF???? Sounds suspiciously like Hawaii… Back in the 80’s almost 50% of the high school grads there were functionally illiterate! Guess Dallas is playing catch up.

  34. Merripan,

    I’m also in the PNW…we got SO fed up with the SSD that we combination taught kids at home and had them go to school for mark. Son the Younger will be attending the “alternative school” for the district, the alternative school being self paced and run by the GOOD teachers who wanted to TEACH, not follow the ball.

    WASL is a JOKE as the kids SPEND TONS OF TIME preparing for them…that said…WHAT IDIOT WROTE THAT TEST??????.

    Son the Elder is now a budding aircraft mechanic with Boeing and taking college classes in his off hours (dang FEW of them as he is working 7×10+), He has a GOOD work ethic, is doing fantastic work and rising in the ranks FAST as a conscientious carefull and fast worker.

    I am STILL thinking of getting Younger out of the SSD and then going for the jugular. Its a travesty.

    I used to run a mill nearly 20 years ago, I got GRADUATES from the local SD who couldnt do simple fractional math…or comprehend simple written instructions. One guy…6’6″, 280…kinda ssllooww….asked him what he did…” Ah Played Fuutboll”…. got his transcript…he basically had enough passing credits for a 1st term sophomore.

    a POX on those.

    OH..local Sd managed to chase OFF most of the GOOD teachers and staff. I could go on for WEEKS on that subject.

  35. Classic case of lowering the standards to have higher numbers. ‘Nuff said.

    Where are we going and what am I doing in this handbasket?

  36. … And my dumb butt just applied for a science position there. =( If they can’t read and/or comprehend a story in reading class how in the heck can they be expected to understand and comprehend something technical? Cripes. What’s the depression rate among DISD teachers?

  37. Why is it so hard to teach kids to spell correctly, read and write, and do math???
    Do people who manage these education “systems” realize that the working world DOES rate people by performance??

    I guess not.

  38. Makes it easier to weed out job applicants. Any that come from Dallas get circular filed immediately.

    Yeah, I’m gonna throw out some smart applicants with the stupid ones, but the smart kids will figure out how to fake a transcript from an Oklahoma school district in no time.

  39. Two years ago our local school district (SW of Dallas) tried to do what the Dallas ISD wants to do. Luckily the parents and the AP students attended the September board meeting with their protests and convinced the school board the stupidity of such grading system. The AP students were screaming that it was screwing with their GPA’s. I was the only parent there who was upset that my son was passing Spanish I.

    He was failing all his work in Spanish I but had an 80 because of his conduct grade. I told the school board that this was not acceptable as I expected my children to learn and I needed to know if this was not happening. The school board changed the policy that night, but the superintendent was livid that his grading system was axed.

  40. Awh boogie, I was even worse than you. I was in gifted classes until HS, where they didn’t have a gifted program. When I was dropped off in HS with everyone else, it was so fundamentally boring that I thumbed through the book, got the jist of the class, then went to sleep in class. If a teacher woke me up I taught them their class, and tried to bring in more advanced aspects of the subject… so pretty much everyone just let me sleep. I never did an assignment because I told them to “not bother me with your busy work”, but aced every test that I was ever handed… so had a C average. They didn’t know what to do with me until my Sr. year, when someone had the bright idea to tell me about Running Start, where they got me off to the college campus for my classes. I could have done it my Jr. year, but no one thought to tell me about it (absolutely my own fault).

    If my son ever gets the notion to act like me, I will make SURE that he understands that it will not fly in my house. Then again, I would put him through private school and NEVER let him in public school. Why? Oh… heh… well, beyond my generally low level of respect for it…

    The year after I graduated, when my brother went through Health Class, they devoted a couple days to the subject of:

    Proper anal sex

    After all, if kids are going to have sex anyway, let’s teach them to do it in a way that will keep them from getting pregnant! Yes, not gay stuff, but for straight people.

  41. That is why we home school. Here is another little tidbit for you. Uni of Houston requires home school kids to score higher on the SAT and ACT then the public school kids. Why? Well everyone knows that home schooled kids have greater opportunities to learn than public schooled kids. HS kids have more one on one time. Apparently they’ve never tried to teach 8 kids in 8 different grades all at one time. The DISD are beyond stupid. I think they need to replace that superintendent.

  42. When my son got out of first grade in a large city elementary school he didn’t know the things I thought he should. The school gave him a “satisfactory” grade and planned to pass him.

    I immediately moved back to the small town where I grew up and had him placed back in first grade.

    Our little school system didn’t have a lot things the other school had. There weren’t computers in each classroom and the library didn’t have as large a selection. But the teachers taught the 3 R’s.

    My son has always hated that I had him held back. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat. And I have nothing but contempt for any parent who wouldn’t do the same.

  43. Wow. Makes me feel better about New Orleans’ public school system… And here I thought I’d have to look at, say, the rural public education system of Zimbabwe to get that sort of morale boost.

  44. How about Billions of Chinese? We’d best be nice to the Chinese in the future.

  45. I saw this kind of crap twenty years ago, too, though thankfully not at my high school.

    In fact, the only athletes got special treatment when they were failing was when the entire class failed a test because the regular teacher had been gone and the substitute was incometent . . . didn’t follow the lesson plan the regular teacher had left.

    Then the regular teacher got back, gave the scheduled test . . . and eseentially the entire class flunked!

    The three of us that didn’t flunk all noted that the material on the test had not been covered in class, nor had the substitute asssigned any homework . . .

    The principal decided that the test would be disregarded for everyone’s grade. (Every class had to have at least one test a week, and that week’s grade was reported to the office on Thursday to determine if athletes, which included the cheerleaders, could play that weekend . . . a grade less than a straight C and you didn’t, no exceptions.)

    That was also the last time we ever saw that substitute . . . the nest time we needed a sub and that incompetent was the only one available, the principal and the superintendent were teaching classes instead!

    Small rural schools can be pretty good . . . if the faculty cares.

    When I got to college, I was exempted from a number of mandatory freshman classes because I already knew the subject . . . I also tested out of the mandatory junior english class (though I had to take it anyway, and passed while attending about half the sessions . . . /eyeroll/).

    –Webfoot Logger


    What was left of my shriveled, blackened soul has finally fled.

    Even “Cute Overload” couldn’t prevent an aneurysm.

  47. the reason this crap is occuring is that people don’t speak up in outrage. the only ones making noise have been the ones protecting their children from failure since birth and threatning lawsuits against anyone who might harm the precious little angels’ sense of self worth.

  48. The level of mediocrity that this shows is astounding. The Superintendent of the DISD needs to have his teaching credentials revoked and he needs to be tarred and feathered. Maybe then other superintendents will get the message to TEACH our children, instead of fiddling with the statistics.

  49. Well, shawn, I agree that what this country needs on any number of levels is a good dose of outrage.
    However, bear in mind that if you have the guts to display it in the cause of Right and Honest and Fair, then you are going to be branded a radical nutcase.
    Almost everyone vies for social acceptance. It’s part of the criteria for success in virtually any endeavor, including education, and it is therefore wise to keep one’s mouth shut when trying to deal with a school lest your child be ostrasized or otherwise punished for your actions.
    What we are having to deal with is the Don’t Make Waves status quo generation. This is the same generation who decided that American Indians were to be called “Native Americans” (I know very few American Indians who call themselves anything else), that the physically and mentally handicapped were to be called “challenged”, that patients in nursing homes were to be called “clients”, and that Halloween had to be sanitized almost out of existence.
    A rose by any other name….
    They absolutely discourage any individual responsibility for any action.
    Disgusting, isn’t it?

  50. firehand said: As a couple of people pointed out, this crap isn’t to help the kids; it’s to keep the teachers and administrators out of trouble for not doing their damned jobs.

    As someone ELSE already pointed out, these teachers can not be fired, disciplined or in any way prevented from inflicting their ignunce on the hapless schoolchildren of Texas. MY understanding of the skills assessment tests in Texas schools is that school administrators and teachers receive raises and bonuses based on their students’ scores.

    I hope someone will correct me if I am mistaken on this point.

    Oh, and they spend waaaaay more than a week prepping for this test. They spend nearly the whole of the semester prepping for it. It’s their whole raison detriment. *ahem.

    Forgive me.

  51. It is similar out here in Californification.
    The freshmen in our class are always in for a rude awakening when they realize they can’t turn in late work and are held accountable for their actions.
    The middle schools just push kids along, they do NOTHING to prepare kids for High School.

  52. As a graduate of the fine institutions of; public school (in two states), home schooling and a private school, I must say that none were particularly helpfull. I learned more from reading Heinlein and my Encylopedias than any of my Middle/High school classes. I learned more about electronics and electrical systems by trying to jimmy the cable box so I could watch HBO than I ever did during my "Technology" class.

    I've known a few good teachers during my scholastic carreer, mostly in middle school. High school teachers are too scared of the students and public opinion, and primary teachers are mostly brain dead from talking to little Jimmy all day, trying to keep him from eating the paste. I will say however, that the most important lesson I ever learned (from a private high school teacher) is that I can learn, and the techniques to do so. Most everything else I sort of taught myself.

    Besides, allowing the SD to establish & enforce testing norms is kind of like letting the board of the NYSE, run the SEC. An indipendent body really should be conducting all major testing, with their pay attached not to how sucessfull the students perform, but with how accurate their testing is.

    I could go on for days.

    Apropos of this and other dicussions here at teh LawDog Files, I think y'all might find this interesting.

  53. 17This has been happening in South africa for a while now. We used to have a top notch educational system near to the best in the world in fact. Sadly no longer. The kids coming out of high school can’t be taught at the universities and those that go straight to work can barely do basic addition and take half an hour to read an email. And its getting worse.

  54. It used to be that schools aimed to turn out people prepared for adult work as factory workers. Apparently, the DISD’s aim is to prepare kids for life as permanent welfare recipients.

  55. This isn’t just Dallas… it’s everywhere. My wife is an adjunct at a NYC college as well as being the director of the Math Learning Center. The courses she teaches are to prepare K-8 teachers how to teach math. Last couple of years mostly freshmen have been in her classes. She always has the same complaints. They don’t read or write very well and they all think just showing up and not creating too much of a fuss should get them at least a “B”. I have to tell you, my wife is a tough but fair grader. When these people’s perception meets reality it sure is fun to watch. BTW… The NYS Regents exam in Math, wich they all need to pass to graduate from HS, Has been curved year to year to insure that most people get to move on. This country is in a world of poop.

  56. This was the rule in 1971 when I was a first year teacher in New Orleans. You would think after 37 yrs (2 generations)this bad idea would have been scrapped. I left teaching in 1972 and have never looked back, until today.

  57. The policy is so wrong I don’t know where to start.

    But my first thought was how easy it would be to game. Get 100% on your first homework and your first test and everything else in the class becomes optional. A great timesaver if you have a full load in other more interesting and relevant classes (a situation unlikely for the unfortunate students trapped in that district).

    As a student I didn’t try to game the system. I guess I learned to think like that when I taught college students.

  58. "It seems educators have 'progressed' further down that same road. All educational psychologists should be hung by their thumbs."

    HA! LawMom! You caught 'em by their *dangleberries*! Wher was you when I fought the school my kids went too?

    Twas branded an outlaw myself…Wouldn't take any carp (mis-spelled for reason) from 'em!

    Thanks LM for raising & giving the world a good son, You rock, Baby!



  59. I was probably around, doing my thing, streetsweeper. I’ve seen it all. The school superintendent in New Orleans who said “I seen” and “I dassent” (the latter of which is perfectly good English; I use it myself sometimes, but not in the classroom); needless to say, Dog and his brother weren’t enrolled in N. O.
    The school principal who, when told that the headstart (something of which I violently disapprove) teacher was verbally abusing the kids said, “Well, look at who they ARE” As if being poor was a reason for a five year old to be called a stupid idiot.
    The college teacher who flunked Boo on an exam because he said a college freshman couldn’t possibly have a vocabulary like that. If she’s MY college freshman, she does.
    The teachers at a junior high school in Nevada who insisted upon judging my arts and crafts show, and who, despite my protests, picked up ceramic pieces to look under and see who did them and pulled the covering paper off names on paintings. I actually heard one of them say, “We can’t give a ribbon to HER.” Sure we can; I ‘rearranged’ the ribbons after they left.
    The jr. hi geography teacher who was going to flunk my daughter for refusing to mispronounce the name of an African town the way the teacher did. Boo had lived there; she knew how it was pronounced. I went to the principal and said, “My daughter is NOT going to be forced to mispronounce anything by anyone. Period.”
    Then there’s the, yes, educational psychologist, teaching a class at an area university, who wanted mature adults to get up and dance and sing to a Mickey Mouse record (which she had for sale, of course), like a bunch of first graders, happy-happy, joy-joy. They did it! Only because she has a doctorate and was a ‘teacher.’ Uneffing real. I was in that class; I also have a doctorate, and I got up and left. We needn’t go into what was said when the teacher stopped me as I was going out the door and asked what was wrong. LOL!

  60. Our uni has a series of four “happy hippie” courses that involve the adults sitting in drum circle, dancing, performing panto and engaging in a community organic feast…for credit hours. An EdD teaches, and she is the stereotypical ’60s hippie.

    No one ever gets less than an “A.”

    As LawMom pointed out — she also sells the New Age- music on CD, the dance moves/performances on DVD, and the recipes.

  61. Leno (I think) said, “Bush is working on a plan to bring basic education to the people of Iraq. And if it works, he’ll try it here!”

  62. Here’s the most amusing (or disgusting) part of the whole thing… The original policy can be found here:

    The first thing it says?
    “To close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind.”

    What’s sad is, there’s no way that this has occurred at all. I have no clue what it was that they were trying for, but apparently they can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a wide-spread shot-gun.

    I’d home-school mine, but we just don’t earn enough money for me to stay home with her… *sigh* Going to do my best to fill the gaps on the weekends and after school.


  63. Aside to jeff the baptist: a grade of 50 is average? What school let you out the door? A grade of 50 is, in anyone’s language (except DISD, of course), Failing, not “average.”

    I’m not talking about giving kids a grade of 50 out of 100 on test with objective values for right and wrong. I’m also not talking about getting more than 50% of kids above a certain performance level that is deemed “competency.” You can do both of those and you should do better than 50%.

    What I’m saying is that if you take a population and compile statistics on them, by definition mean performance will be the 50th percentile. By saying “80% of the DISD 2007 class of freshmen scored below the 40th percentile on the Iowa Test of Educational Development” they aren’t saying most DISD students got below a 40 on the test. What they are saying is that most DISD students ranked below the 40th percentile in test performance when compared to the general student population.

    Now maybe I’m not understanding what the “40th percentile on the Iowa Test of Education Development” indicates, but I don’t think so.

    Unless you live in Lake Wobegon, you can’t get all the kids (or even a majority of the kids) above average. The math will just move the average and then center the kids around it 50-50.

  64. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, called Middle America, before the advent of ‘new math’ and ‘mainstreaming,’ the idea was that any student who couldn’t answer 50 out of 100 questions was probably in some way ‘intellectually challenged’ and needed to have extensive tests to see if he/she should be in a remedial course-excuse me, a ‘correlative’ course.
    Those who scored above 50 were thought to be able to bring their scores up enough to pass-that is, make a 70.
    There are some students who simply haven’t the ability to do this. There has to be a cutoff place between, for want of a better word, able, remedial and special eduation-don’t know what we’re calling that nowadays-but then, I’m not politically correct. Unable to do the work is just that: not ‘intellectually challenged.’
    I never taught a class that scored more than 10% below 70, and even that was rare. But then, I took their money, so I figured I should do the job.
    It seems the new 70 is a 50, but why screw around with the math? So we can happily teach our kids that mediocrity is the ‘new goal?’

  65. I do believe in effort-based grading. The kind where the teacher says “Attendance and class participation count. At the end of the course, if you are sitting right on the edge between grades, good attendance and class particaption will tip you into the higher grade. If you skip out of class or don’t bother to participate? Tough cookies.”

    Of course, I’m probably being elitist. The higher grade that I worked so hard to achieve was an A in Calculus, in a grading system where you needed %94 for and A, %86 for a B, etc.

    I simply cannot fathom how boring, or worse frighteningly confusing it must be to sit through day after day of school, not being able to read or understand what is going on around you. If kids aren’t actually learning, no wonder they’re dropping out! And how soul-sucking to be a teacher in a system that seems determined to prevent you doing anything.


  66. Dog, you are so right! The reason is, we don’t want the little darlings to have low self esteem while their a$$e$ are being kicked in the global marketplace. Is this a product of liberal guilt, the constitutional right to a sense of entitlement, or some other cause?

  67. As a student in Louisiana (not quite 50 years ago) the teachers went over multiplication tables once in third grade, twice in fourth . Shoot, the teacher didn’t care, why should I? In North Carolina, the teacher cared. I flunked the first six weeks, aced the second…
    Running an employment agency in Georgia, I had trouble placing anyone in a cash office; every one flunked the test. Finally I had a Math major with a BS; I was sure we had it then. She flunked. I asked her how; Said she “Had trouble with word problems.” The Comptroller finally showed me the tests; Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. No words.
    My firstborn did equations and read (self taught) at age three. I begged his teachers in public school to challenge him. No, they had to teach the state curriculum, period. By third grade, he was so bored he stopped working. The teacher would correct a correctly spelled word incorrectly. He would have taken 1st place in the science fair in eighth grade, except he didn’t turn in the accompanying paper. It was finished, he didn’t care.
    Now I have twins in eighth grade. No child left behind. The one in regular class (the other is in special Ed, he’s brain damaged) aced Social Studies; when the CRCT testing was done, he barely squeaked by “acceptable.” Apparently, “every kid in the state flunked.” No. The State flunked. His grades aren’t that great, even though he aces the tests. He refuses to do busywork homework. So telling him that knowledge is the key, is useless, as far as grades go.
    And people wonder why technical jobs are shipped overseas.

  68. I do not give a damn about the lazy shits. What I do give a damn about is that every kid who WORKED HIS ASS OFF AND EXCELLED is now indistinguishable
    on paper from the incompetents.
    Harrison Bergeron come to life.

  69. Geez, why didn’t they do this in Spring, TX when I went to Elementary, Middle and High School there? It would have saved me a lot of grief(won’t go into details). However, I probably wouldn’t have graduated with honors from college, and be a member of the International Honor Society of Nursing. Except, I like reading and spelling. 🙂 Now, I DETEST math.

  70. Oh, that’s right, I went to school there when Reagan was President. We were still actually supposed to achieve something back then.

    P.S. My good grades in College weren’t just because of a good education when younger, but more because I liked what I was studying and I was doing it for me, not to please the Almighty Mommy and Daddy. (No offense, LawMom, but I was a bit like LawDog…Hee hee! School was BORING!!)

  71. Of course there should be an objective, performance-based grading system, especially for students who are preparing for college.
    I do, however, think that there should be some way for schools and parents to distinguish between slackers and slow learners. If a bright but lazy kid chooses to do only 60% of the schoolwork and a slow but hardworking kid makes a monumental effort to do that same 60%, it seems unjust to give them the same D- and leave it at that. Slacker kid’s parents should probably ground him for a few months, while slow kid’s parents should probably be glad that their child was able to grasp even that much of the material.
    The integrity of school grades has to be preserved (or restored in some cases), but I think that dedication and perseverence are qualities we all want our children to develop. There should be some way to recognize that, even if those efforts don’t always result in high scores.

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