Back to the Basics: Johnny No Joke
This is an interesting perspective from John McWhorter, an author and lecturer and recently published in The Washington Post his take on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Mr. McWhorter believes that grading is underappreciated, the same way drivers appear to go unnoticed in the nighttime media coverage.
“In America, drivers generally receive better grades than the average college graduate. Well, not nearly as good as the average college graduate, but at least they better than a third of the public school graduates. That’s because the driver’s license is one of the single most commonly awarded educational grants in the U.S. A driver gets an equivalent sticker of course work that will allow him to get a grade of pass or pass. But there is a problem. Cars are moving much faster than we are learning how to drive. The speed limit in many states is 25 miles per hour. Drivers are able to drive very safely on a freeway at 25 miles per hour. However, if a car moves faster than 25 miles per hour, it will often be pulled over by a state trooper, risking thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. Maybe a driver needs to learn to drive at 70 mph or 80 mph. So again, the driver’s license is highly adaptable. Drive well and it will scale to your abilities and needs.”
The paper also cited an earlier piece, another on why new testing should be cautious in the initial phase of its usage.
John McWhorter gave a few examples of the changing grades for a majority of college courses. Many AP students are now getting B’s instead of A’s. Additionally, English majors in the 1990s averaged a C, while now a B+ would be exemplary.
In McWhorter’s view, grading will continue to change. While it may seem minor, a strong note should be made about negative consequences. He cites Matthew Faber’s article, Who Stands in the Way of Rotten Fruit?, which states that, “Education is a profession that is increasingly discouraged by factors beyond the school itself. On average, college seniors who had worked in colleges and universities in the second semester of their college careers, between 1988 and 2009, earned between $1,500 and $1,900 less than their peers who had never been to college. While the study’s authors noted that there were plausible explanations for the changes in earnings, it is a striking correlation. If money influences a student’s academic success, then without effective guidance, students who enter college unprepared will earn less than those who received adequate preparation. And, in general, higher levels of income help college students throughout their lives.”
The author went on to cite the opportunity costs in education–that a student spends the student loan money on college, which then has no immediate return.