Curriculum and inadequate instruction both have their pros and cons when it comes to the decision-making process of what works best to achieve higher level learning among students. Curriculum mainly focuses on the knowledge and skills that are important to learn where as instruction is what learning will be achieved to meet the needs of students, standardized testing, and outcomes. Teachers in the 21st century have to employ instructional strategies that are innovative, research-proven techniques/strategies, technologies, and real world resources-contexts in order to differentiate among the many learning styles in the classroom.
If the curriculum is weak, it does not provide the students with the necessary knowledge in order to master standards. If the instruction is inadequate, then students will not benefit from the content being taught which will lead to further failure among students. Teachers have to provide a curriculum with adequate resources that will allow for students to be knowledgeable in skills necessary to be promoted to the next grade level as well as an instruction that consist of high level learning and strategies that will allow for academic growth and success. The purpose of this assignment is to analyze weak curriculum as well inadequate instruction and the causes as to why they lead to low achievements among students.
The grading system has dramatically changed in the 21st century which consist of standards-based report cards. Educators are required to grade students of academic achievement of content knowledge of subjects being taught. The sole purpose of grading is to accurately show data pertaining to levels of academic achievements that students have mastered or obtained that is mandated in order for promotion to the next grade level. The problem here is are the grades being accurately measured to show student’s achievements and mastery. If grades are not accurately measured then the grading system does not communicate the truth about levels of student mastery and achievements.
There is an alternative method to measure learning that is meaningful “assessments”. Teachers and schools can use assessments to show students strengths and weaknesses in order to gauge instructional practices. Assessments represents the schools and teachers accountability to determine whether they are up to scratch. In measuring learning, instructional practices/grading systems must have the abilities to allow for students to recall, analyze, inference, comparison, and evaluate mastery. This is the kinds of skills that should be measured by our current high-stakes tests.
By incorporating performance based assessments (formative-summative) into standardized tests or adding assessment vehicles such as presentations of student performance or portfolios that will show additional measures of student mastery, it will allow for teachers and districts to show further mastery/achievements of students.
Many school districts have adopted standards-based grading to show students mastery and achievements. According to Tomlinson (2006) one grading practice that is gaining popularity “is standards based grading, which involves measuring student’s proficiency on well-defined course objectives” (pg.4). The standards-based report card gives a wealth of information to help the teacher adjust instruction to meet student’s needs. The implications of the standards-based report card is to simply show that students are meeting (standards) to demonstrate their learning-mastery or what modifications/accommodations need to be made to instructional practices for achievements to occur.
Standard-Based Test Scores
The litmus test that is used to show teacher competency, is a small scale test that is controlled and monitored to show if effective approaches to instructional practices are being implemented. The test scores also generates data about what works well and would also reveal what modifications are needed to empower teachers/districts with the capacity to implement approaches to instructional practices and designs.
Teachers are now being held accountable for their instructional practices and how well students are mastering the content that they teach. According to O’Conner (2007) most research studies “support claims that academic ability is important for teachers to possess and that formal teacher preparation and teaching experience may have only modest effects on student achievement test results” (pgs.172-173).
Should Grading System Measure Efforts or Participation?
The grading system should measure student’s efforts and participation in the grading scale. Standards-based grading systems should measure a student’s most recent level of mastery. The standards-based grading system uses a grading scale of 4, 3, 2, and 1 which corresponds to performance and content standards. This means using assignments that assess students’ knowledge of materials being taught. In my opinion, grading systems should measure efforts and participation in the grading system. Teachers can use data from participation/efforts to analyze whether master of content is being learned through allowing students to participate in open discussion and demonstrate their mastery through assessments that lets them apply their efforts in a certain skill or content areas.
The criteria for promotion-retention is that more educators are faced with difficulties on whether to promote or need to employ what works best for each students who may struggle to advance to the next grade level. In order to be promoted, students need to have the necessary skills for the next grade level. Retention allows for districts and educators to hold students back who are struggling and fail to meet objectives and goals of standardized testing.
According to McMillian (2008) students “who fail will be able to retake tests, if not they will be promoted and if not they will repeat the grade with support they need to master the skills necessary in order to advance” (pg.21). In the criteria, districts are now implementing support systems to help struggling students to stay on track and also forming success teams who will identify along with teachers, students who are at risk by assessing their needs and developing intervention programs.
Administrators must guidelines in place for staff to follow to know what protocols/procedures are being implemented in the grading process. Without guidelines in place, teachers would find it difficult to know what measures of grading are needed to show student mastery of skills. Administrators must provide teachers with a clear framework for guidelines regarding grading systems. The framework should be aligned with assessments, reporting practices, and with standards-based content. Guidelines should address how teachers can accurately grade students and what they want their students to learn and be able to do. Teachers must have a clear criteria of what types of guiding systems they will use. In conclusion, with standards-based grading and assessments now in place, teachers/administrator’s face the daunting task of how best to grade and report student learning in terms of those standards.
Grading systems must provide evidence that measures of learning are valid and clearly show student mastery. There are many alternative measures that administrators can use to ensure that the grading system is accurate and provides meaningful data that supports student mastery of objectives and goals. Accountability is here to stay and everyone in the educational community is feeling it affects from the pressure of high stakes learning and standardized curriculum. The school community must work together to ensure that the criteria allows for student growth and success rates among the grading systems.
McMillian, J. (2008). Secondary teachers’ classroom assessment and grading practices. Educational measurement: Issues and practice 20:1, (pg. 21). O’Connor, K. (2007). A repair kit for grading: 15 fixes for broken grades. Portland, OR: Educational Testing Service. (pgs. 172-173).
Tomlinson, C. (2006). Integrating differentiated instruction: Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD (pg. 4).