Friday, January 30, 2015

What if my Doctor Assessed using a Punitive Grading System?

**The basic idea of this post comes from a fictional story Rick Wormeli used as an example in a workshop I recently attended.

Most of us believe that turning in assignments on time is an important behavior for students to exhibit.  However, it should not be confused with the essential skill we are trying to teach.  If behavior is given it’s own category, it allows us to accurately reflect the students academic ability.  If we want to use grades to help us make important decisions about student  progress and next steps, it is critical that we understand where they actually are in the learning process.  Reducing grades for late work combines behavior and academic ability, thus confusing what is meant by a grade. Consider the following example:

I went to a doctor to get a Blood Pressure test.  Blood Pressure is assessed using the following chart

Blood Pressure
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
less than 120
less than 80
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher
100 or higher
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180
Higher than 110

I showed up to the doctor and parked in a 15 minute parking zone, knowing that I would actually be in the office for 30 minutes.  I had to do this because I was already late so I couldn't find a parking spot.  The doctor noticed that I was late.  His policy is an automatic 10 points are added to each blood pressure category when people show up late.  When he found out that I parked in a 15 minute parking zone, he had to add another 10 points to my blood pressure according to his policy.  When I got my results back, my blood pressure was marked:

117/76  + 10 for being late = 127/86 + another 10 points for not following directions = 137/96

I have now been prescribed medication for High Blood Pressure.  It kinda stinks since I don’t have high blood pressure but it was my own fault.  I have truly learned a lesson from my doctor.
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