Partial Credit

Is it just me, or is the world getting crazier by the day?

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials say they want to give struggling children a chance, but the district is raising eyebrows with a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work.

The pass mark is 60 percent, so it’s still possible to fail.  The idea is, that if a students gets zero on a particular assignment or test, that they won’t have as far to catch up in the others.

At the same time, they said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying. If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, Ms. Pugh said, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester.

“We want to create situations where students can recover and not give up,” she said, adding a sense of helplessness can lead to behavior and attendance problems.

Yeah – I’m sure students won’t be slacking off for the first semester in the belief they can cram for the second.   They’ll be much more well behaved with this system, for sure!  Ah, the benefits of public education.

9 thoughts on “Partial Credit

  1. The whole standardised marking thing is full of holes and leads to silly adjustments like this. Eg, the move from the TER to the UAI in NSW; they basically now arbitrarily inflate everyone’s mark to make the scores look better. It’s pointless. Of course Kevvie’s national curriculum will bring with it similar absurdities too.

  2. This isn’t just standardising though… it’s increasing the score of one test, so that they don’t have to score as much in the others to bring their average up to a pass level.

    Politicians spend an awful lot of time to rig the results to make them look better than they are (look at hospital waiting lists), but that’s not all that’s at play here: the motivation of this particular incident is so the student’s don’t feel bad. Touchy-feely PC nonsense.

  3. This is a variation on a long standing practice. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in study and there has always been a standing joke that you could get 30% for just writing your name and student number correctly on the exam paper. It’s only been increased 20%.

    As long as they don’t use the same approach to graduate brain surgeons and airline pilots, it doesn’t concern me.

  4. This is a great idea. We should have it here. But better. 80% minimum. It’s not about learning stuff it’s about feeling good.
    Great for the country, great for the economy, great for people who rent out sub-rural caravans to permanent residents.

  5. I think your tag says it all really – idiots.

    Reminds me of some Steiner school advocates I met once – they force every child to play the violin, but don’t teach them to read until after they’re seven.

    They were not amused by my somewhat flippant question – why force the violin – why not the ukelele or Jewish harp?

    They went on to say that ‘conventional’ education was ‘too focussed on academic ability’. What you mean like learning to read, write and do arithmetic? Yeah, bugger that – what use is it – long as the kiddies hgave a sense of wonder they’ll thrive! /sarc

  6. Daft. It’s definitely not just you, Fleeced.

    Why not just allocate more marks (along with harder, broader spanning questions) in the second marking period? Most of my uni courses did this, since the end is when you’re supposed to have the most knowledge about the subject content. Sure, you can slack off and cram late, but at least you’re rewarded for good early results…so you can slack off a bit come final exam time!

  7. I’ve just remembered where I’ve seen this sort of marking system before. Wine judging of all things!

    The top wine critics like Robert Parker Jr and Jeremy Oliver rate wines on a 100-point scale, but they give each wine at least 50 points just for turning up.

    Does this mean we’re treating or schoolchildren like wine? Hopefully some of them will mature with age…

  8. I’m interested to know if your final sarcastic comment about this being a benefit of the public education system reflects a built in bias or was actually a considered thought. Ok, so this is actually a suggestion coming from a public system, but what makes you think the same idea couldn’t be generated by a privatised education system?

    A private school is going to be under just as much pressure (if not more) to get and retain more paying students to keep their business alive. Inflating the results in this way could help achieve this in at least two ways. First, it could be used to raise the school’s overall results potentially making it more attractive to future students (or their parents who are spending the cash). Second, it will help retain existing paying customers. I just don’t see how this could be considered a phenomenon unique to a public education system.

    Having said that, I’m not insane; I think this is a staggeringly stupid idea.

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