Author Topic: Is 95 really the best you can get?  (Read 7669 times)

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NutMeg

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2012, 12:25:56 AM »
RegionMom, your kids are doing fine. You need to back off and relax, and I say this with all kindness. You are not doing them any favours.

How are your kids going to manage their educations when they go off to college? They will have no idea how to advocate for themselves, or what to keep track of, because you are so overly involved in every aspect of their education. They are old enough that you need to start transitioning out of this.

The whole point of a grade is to be able to differentiate between the top students, as well as between the average and lowest students. If someone gets 100 on something, then suddenly the scale becomes less useful. Did they really get 100, or would they have scored a 105 had the scale gone any higher? We don't know any more, because of something called a ceiling effect. Grade inflation leads to severe ceiling effects because now the top 5%, or even 10% of students are all getting the same grade, and  universities and scholarship committees can't tell who the actual top students are. What you are doing by complaining about a 95 is grade mongering, which is exactly what leads to grade inflation, and it doesn't come off as being concerned for your child's learning. If you were really concerned about that, you would be asking the teacher about extra projects to do that would teach your daughter new skills. Except that is your daughter's job, not yours, and so I return to my original advice to back off and relax.
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PeterM

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2012, 12:43:29 AM »
Also - you weren't told 95 is the highest mark available.  You were told that this teacher hasn't come across a paper she deemed worthy of a mark higher than 95.

That by itself comes across as ridiculous to me and essentially exactly the same thing as saying "I never give above a 95." It's certainly not mathematically impossible this teacher has literally never encountered a paper that deserves a grade above a 95, but unless the teacher has been teaching a very short time I think it's much, much more likely that he or she is one of those twits who is simply unwilling to give a grade above their own arbitrary limit.

And even if this teacher has honestly never encountered a 95+ grade, I still think they dropped the ball in a major way by not actually answering the question, "What could I have done to make my paper even better?" If you take 5 points off a student's paper you should be prepared to explain why. If the best you can do is "Well, this is worth 1 point, and I've never given a higher grade," then you're a crappy teacher because you're apparently incapable or unwilling to actually teach your student to do better.

RegionMom

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2012, 12:45:57 AM »
Why stay here?  Because it truly is the best for the money.  We could do another kind of private school, for twice the money, but what I have seen from visiting during basketball games and competing with them at a volunteer academic event (which my kids are not involved in at all) they are all about the same. 

Each year a few students leave for one or two "highly rated public schools" and each year a few come back with the same comments, "I was taking all AP and honors courses and making A's without trying, no challenge.  At this private school, I know I have to really work to earn my grades."

Some stay at the public schools because you can earn admittance to local state colleges based on class rankings. Or they stay for better sports teams.  Or, parents have lost income and cannot afford it anymore, even though our school is cheaper than most schools of this caliber.   

My 16 year old son has been mistaken, several times, for a college student/young adult, for how well he speaks with adults and greets them and looks them in the eye.  Part of that is from this school.  Much is from inside him. 

This school has become very admin heavy in the past few years.  One person used to run the grammar school.  They retired.  Now we have a head with three division chairs, and an assistant, all full time. 

Lots of new middle management positions opened this year.  Lots of meetings.  Lots of rules. 

As for grading standards, that is why we have the brand new grading rubrics introduced this year. 

I was taught, self-taught via other teachers at an academic competition, to read over the stack of papers first, to get a feel of the students' writing abilities, at that given time.  Then, you make comments, mark them, grade them, and rank them.  Yes, it is more work, but the student benefits.

No comments, even after re-reading it and flipping pages?  Well, that is the "hollow" feeling DD now has.  What did she do that was so good?  How can she build on that? 

As for enjoying life, DD has had three sleepovers since Friday with friends over Thanksgiving break, and DS did a movie marathon/sleepoever with his friends, after enjoying a Hobbit themed meal at a restaurant, some in costume.  They are also running the race tomorrow.  DD is on a dance team, and DS is a scout and in karate.  Both are in several clubs at school, for fun, not for college resumes. 

Some of their friends are not allowed to be in sports or clubs because they have tutoring and tons of homework, and stay up till 2am at least one or two nights a week, studying/asking class related questions on FaceBook.   All nighters are common.  DH has a feature that shuts down the children's computer screen at 10pm and their phones dock in the kitchen at 9:30pm.  Yes, in college, they will have their own choices to make about bedtime and phones and friends, but for now, sleep is a good thing!  My kids are not stressed.  We have laughter in the home, and have friends over, and go out and do fun things. 

Helicoptering?  Via bedtime and having meaningful conversations?  So be it.  I have not talked with a single teacher of theirs this year.  And I have only emailed the lit teacher. And, I do believe, he instigated it! 

So DD's failed attempt to get an answer should be the end of it.  Alright. 

Good night, all, and I really mean it this time!  I have to sleep!!








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Katana_Geldar

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2012, 02:42:31 AM »
To be honest, RM, it's much easier to give negative comments than it is to give positive ones. Much easier to underline passages and comment on tense, voice, spelling etc than it is to articulate how well something is done.

When writing works, it works in a way that is difficult to explain.

Your daughter could ask the teacher to specify what in her essay worked and how to use those techniques another time. So she can keep doing what she is doing.

cicero

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2012, 02:50:20 AM »
Also - you weren't told 95 is the highest mark available.  You were told that this teacher hasn't come across a paper she deemed worthy of a mark higher than 95.

That by itself comes across as ridiculous to me and essentially exactly the same thing as saying "I never give above a 95." It's certainly not mathematically impossible this teacher has literally never encountered a paper that deserves a grade above a 95, but unless the teacher has been teaching a very short time I think it's much, much more likely that he or she is one of those twits who is simply unwilling to give a grade above their own arbitrary limit.

And even if this teacher has honestly never encountered a 95+ grade, I still think they dropped the ball in a major way by not actually answering the question, "What could I have done to make my paper even better?" If you take 5 points off a student's paper you should be prepared to explain why. If the best you can do is "Well, this is worth 1 point, and I've never given a higher grade," then you're a crappy teacher because you're apparently incapable or unwilling to actually teach your student to do better.
i agree with this.

it's OK that your DD's paper, in the teacher's eyes, was worth 95.

It's OK that the teacher hasn't ever come across a paper that got 100.

but the teacher is coming across as being very lazy here -  repeating this "yeah, i never give over 95" as a mantra without having any concrete *justification* in this case for the 5 points.

and I don't agree that essays *can't* get 100. they can. I've gotten 100 on essay exams in college. yes, there is a subjective slant to everything (it's not the same as a math exam), but it *is* possible to say that the paper met every one of its objectives perfectly.

(when i was in HS - Jewish/Orthodox - there were a few rabbis who never gave 100 because they said "only God is perfect"...)

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Iris

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2012, 02:55:56 AM »
Many, many teachers in essay based subjects never give 100%. I have known them to laugh at the idea that they would because 'that's just not how it's done'. It's a real cultural thing with some people. I think it's an idiotic idea personally, but it's one of those unfair things that we just have to deal with in life. It's also why I studied Maths - it never lets me down :)

I honestly think your energies would be better directed towards helping your daughter to accept this and move on. She spoke to her teacher. If she is genuinely unhappy with the feedback then *she* is certainly entitled to ask for further clarification but I would not get involved other than to offer passive support.

If it's any comfort, my DB missed out on a very prestigious award at university because of a lecturer who never gave above an 85. Even though he TOLD him that his assignment was perfect and couldn't be improved. DB moved on and lives a happy and productive life with a good job and it turns out it wasn't the end of the world after all.
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Diane AKA Traska

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2012, 03:57:51 AM »
Never giving a 100% teaches kids one thing:  Don't try so hard.  You won't be recognized for it, so why bother?

If a teacher told me that he never came across a paper written by one of his students that was worthy of a 100%, I'd be tempted to pat him on the hand and say "Don't feel so bad.  You'll get the hang of teaching, and then I'm sure you'll be able to teach them well enough that can write those papers."
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Acadianna

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2012, 04:24:44 AM »
Many years ago, I participated in a speech event.  I had the highest scores in my room, and the judge gave me great comments -- but he gave me no "5's" (the highest) as scores in the five possible categories.  He told me the only reason I didn't get them was because he "never gives 5's."

Well, that's fine.  The comments, which would help me improve, meant more to me than the actual numerical scores.  Except for the fact that his low score was the only thing that kept me out of the final round.  (Usually promotion to final round would have been based on room ranks, but this tournament was different, unfortunately for me.)  He later told me that, if he'd known that would happen, he'd have given me a much better score.  Small consolation after the fact, and I've never forgotten it.

Some people subscribe to the philosophy that "perfection doesn't exist," hence, no perfect scores.  As a former debate/speech judge and (now) as a teacher, I believe that the highest score or grade should always be attainable by a student.  We don't grade against perfection; we grade against rubrics, from which even "imperfect" work can still qualify for the highest score.

Sharnita

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2012, 05:15:21 AM »
I think that is the reality of the cuture at the schoolthey attend. Maybe every school has their version of "really?" In this case it seems to be a pride in unattainable heights. Even the highest kids will never get all the way up. Since that seems like a goal for them I am  not sure you can change it.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2012, 06:00:10 AM »
I'm going to disagree with most of the previous posters.  No, you shouldn't complain about her getting a 95 instead of a 100 in this instance.  However, your DD should go to her teacher and request more feedback on her papers.  Not challenging the grade, but requesting that she actually get some feedback about ways she can improve.  If the teacher is unwilling/unable to tell her anything she could be doing better, then she has an opening to say "but you took five points off, and I'm just in high school, so obviously there must be something I can do to improve!  Even if I am already writing above the level you expect from your average high school student, I still want to get better."

In my experience (having been in your DD's place with this in AP English), bringing this request up as the student instead of having a parent do it makes a huge difference in how it is perceived  - "asking for help" and "being a self-starter" versus "helicopter parenting" and "grade-grubbing".  In my case it also led to my teacher - who really did know his stuff - actually critiquing my essays instead of just saying "good job" and leaving it at that.  It did help me focus on the parts of writing I needed improvement in, even though they were fine for high school work already.  It also, by the end of the year, led to him giving me a perfect score a few times because I was finally writing at the level he considered a 100% to be.

wallaby

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2012, 06:10:16 AM »
If I was your daughter I would say nothing to the teacher. (However if she did want to do this, ask for the teacher to critique the essay as per Stariblast's suggestion.)

If I was you, I would say nothing to the teacher.

This veers off etiquette, but reading your post gave me very uncomfortable flashbacks. I used to define my success by my grades and that started affecting how I felt about myself as a person. I used to get top marks and the only feelings I remember having was a brief feeling of relief ('whew, I maintained my GPA'), rapidly followed by resumed anxiety about the next assessments due and needing them to be 'perfect' too. I remember seeing classmates happily celebrating their marks and wondering why, when I had done better than them, that feeling of joy was so elusive. Unfortunately my parents fell into the trap of expecting top grades from me too and if I came home saying 'I got 22/25' they'd say 'what happened to the other 3 marks?'. Yes 90% basically felt like failure. The thing that sung out to me in your post is that 95% is an awesome grade, an excellent grade that no one should feel 'hollow' about. It scares me that you and your daughter could not celebrate her 95% because you both wanted to know what she could have done for the extra 5%. And when there was no concrete answer but hey, she got the top mark, and it is one of the best student essays this teacher has ever read, that still isn't good enough - because the teacher could not find sufficient justification for removing 5% means the essay was 'perfect' so therefore your daughter effectively got cheated out of an extra 5% and a perfect score?  :-[ Yes it is important that your daughter learns to stick up for herself, but it is also important to learn to celebrate achievements!

Gyburc

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #26 on: November 22, 2012, 06:10:40 AM »
I have to POD Slartibartfast. I think your DD should ask for more feedback. Of course, if she gets the brush-off, you can follow this up with the teacher yourself. I understand your DD is quite shy - I was a very shy teenager myself - but in the long run it will do her good to speak up.

I have to say, the teacher reminds me of my teacher for GCSE English (the first formal assessment in the UK system, taken at 16). He made a big song and dance to the class about never giving an A+ grade for coursework, the highest you could ever expect was an A.

I regularly got A- for my work, while another student who was the class favourite always got As. Then I wrote one paper with which I was really pleased, and got an A. The teacher gave the other student an A+.  ::)
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bonyk

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #27 on: November 22, 2012, 08:51:13 AM »
IMO, if you respect the job the school has done with you kids as much as you say you do, then let them do their work. 

Bast

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #28 on: November 22, 2012, 08:58:44 AM »
My suggestions can only park my POD with Slartibartfast and a few others.  Your DD should be the one going to the teacher saying "okay, how can I improve my writing," as she obviously is.

Could she take a draft to the teacher with the next paper and ask "how can I improve this paper?" I would make it less about getting the grade, and more about how she, as a writer, can improve.

I'm in school again, and the grading scale in my department is slightly different than the other departments - 95-100 is an A, 90-95 is an A-, and it goes down from there.  It is physically impossible to get an A+, and anything below a 75 is failing.  The majority of the students are desperately trying to get all As and A-s, because it can affect placement in our capstone class: get an A in class X, get placed in *really good unit* sort of attitude, even though *really good unit* won't hire the vast majority of graduate nurses.  However, there is a sentiment, that I agree with, among the instructors at school: "A B is still passing.  It is as good as an A to us.  Grad schools, if you are going to grad school, won't be judging you just on your college GPA, they're going to be looking at the whole picture.  Employers aren't going to choose person A just because they had a higher GPA."  Although yes, I'm in college, not high school, the sentiments are actually quite similar.  It's a whole-picture thing, of which grades are only part of it.  (And there is my rant on grades and the college admission process).
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WillyNilly

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Re: Is 95 really the best you can get?
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2012, 10:06:42 AM »
I am afraid I will be brushed off and quiet little Hortense will continue to shrink away, because she will not see the point in trying. 

If there is even the most remote possibility of this truly happening in the grand scheme of her life you have failed her as a parent and as her original teacher.

Grades don't matter in the real word.  Character matters.  Common sense matters.  Hard work matters.  Happiness matters.  But grades don't.
But if your daughter thinks there is no reason to work hard unless she gets good grades your daughter is doomed to absolute failure in life.  Total misery.

The point of doing school work is NOT to get a good grade from someone else for someone else.  The point is to improve herself and to impress herself.  If she can only be happy with a 100 from someone else your daughter hasn't learned her own self worth.  she is basing her worth on other's opinions.  You and your children don't seem to understand that self is all that matters when it comes to learning.  It doesn't matter what her grades are if she doesn't earn them solely for the sake of learning.


Yes, 95 is good.  But, it does not teach my daughter anything.

This has got to be the meanest thing I can ever imagine any parent ever uttering about their child's school work.



You know what I think you should do?  Take your kids out of this school and put them in public school and never ever mention grades again, ever for the rest of their lives and solely focus on "happy".  Don't ask what their homework is ask if they are happy today.  Don't ask did you do your term paper ask did you laugh yet, don't wonder about college applications wonder about life dreams.