When an A is not an A

Fredricksburg 046aRecently I took my daughter to National Portfolio day in Dallas, where over 50 leading art colleges were present to review students’  art work – a sort of hotbed of creative students. My daughter quickly realized that while considered extremely creative in her own school, she was below average when compared to students across a multi-state region. I hear high praises for the experience of living in a global village, but there is a downside for those who discover they are not as valuable as they assumed within their own little community.

The difficulty is that most people want to assume they are above average, but statistically they cannot be. If you look at average grades, in high school  and especially post secondary, you will quickly see that the curve rises more on the high end. More students make A’s than F’s. This inflation tends to make grades less meaningful and the dependence on standardized tests greater for both school districts and institutions of higher learning. It also helps to promotes the “I’m better than average” illusion.

Can we make everybody a good student? If you look at statistics dealing with which students succeed in school, you will find education of the parents is the major factor. Teachers have to spend more time helping students whose parents are not involved with their education – it’s just a fact of life. So if we spend the time to educate this generation, the next one will be better right? But that is just not happening. The actual level of learning in high school is declining because high school diplomas are assumed essential. Before this trend children often went directly into job or job training after six grade. Some European countries still do this, especially for service and technical training, something the US should probably consider for those that struggle with academics.  Still that shouldn’t continue the inflation of grades.

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