Show Me What You Know


Education today is all about letting students show us what they know in their own time. Lately, I’ve wondered if we are actually helping by giving these chances. This has really boiled down to two major areas across the province and the country, and one area in our school.

1) No Zero Policies. I get it. Just because a student doesn’t hand something in doesn’t mean they don’t know anything, so their mark should reflect that, but are we letting it go too far? Shouldn’t it be recorded somewhere when a student has not only neglected to submit a major assignment, but consciously not chosen to hand it in? Ok, so I can use the comments, but post secondary institutions don’t see these comments. I am legitimately torn on this topic because I understand the assessment implications, but I also don’t think a student should be able to not submit an assignment and not be penalized. (My school does run a program to deal with this issue – thank goodness!)

2) No penalty for late assignments. Again, I understand that removing marks shows that we are marking behaviour and not academic knowledge, but this is a hard sell for me. I WANT post-secondary institutions (and future employers) to be able to look at a transcript and see that a student handed many assignments in late. If any of us handed in a professional obligation late, we would most likely have this noted somewhere and if we continually did this our employers would begin to question our future with the school. So what are we teaching our students?

3) Entitlement to differentiation. Yes, many students need their learning differentiated. Not everyone learns the same way, but our kids are taking advantage of this trend in education. In my senior math and sciences I see this often; students writing an exam simply expect to have extra time to finish when they need it. The exam is designed to be written in 45 minutes, always having this extra time is not teaching these students time management skills. They aren’t learning to work under the pressure of a deadline, and even worse it can effect the validity of an assessment; I can’t count the number of times a student hasn’t finished an exam and asked to return after school or even the next day. Obviously this student has studied enough for the exam and wants a bit more time now that they know what to study. I will give students extended time, because my team has required it (and some students need it), but I wholeheartedly disagree with allowing a student to leave and come back to an in-class assessment and rarely allow it to happen.

Again, from an assessment standard I get these policies – they make sense, but from a teacher who wants to raise good citizens (not just high achieving ones), these policies are not helping. We are raising a generation of students who aren’t prepared for the real world. Even ones that will come out alright are simply being taught how to play the system. I was absolutely enraged when a ‘good’ student told me she wasn’t done her assignment because she was tired, she knew she could hand it in late and not be penalized, and she wanted to check it over. I wasn’t angry with the student, I was angry with the system. 

Yes, high school students grow up, but the habits we develop at a young age often stick. I just wonder, as education in the province, what kind of society do we want? One that had high grades in high school, or one that functions within a civilized system.

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