WCEA Speaks Out Against Grading System
At the Monday, Dec. 5 meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, Elliot Kendle, co-president of the Wetzel County Education Association, spoke on behalf of his organization, against the state department’s recently implemented A-F grading system.
Those grades are based on each school’s data from 2015, and indicate the school’s level of success in ultimately getting students career- or college-ready, according to the department.
Data used is 83 percent student performance, including scores from the West Virginia General Summative Assessment, the periodic test that replaced the old Westest. The remaining 17 percent of the score is based on non-performance metrics, including attendance at all school levels and graduation rates at the high-school level.
Wetzel County Schools garnered four B’s, three C’s, and one D.
Wetzel County Schools receiving a grade of B include: New Martinsville School, Magnolia High School, Paden City High School, and Valley High School. Wetzel County Schools receiving a grade of C include: Long Drain School, Paden City Elementary School, and Short Line School. Hundred High School received a grade of D.
Kendle said he has heard and read many comments “from the media, parents, government officials, teachers, and the public at large,” since the release of the scores.
He said he wanted to discuss the scores as a classroom teacher and as a representative of the West Virginia Education Association.
Kendle said in no state that uses the grading system “is there any evidence that it leads to sustained school improvement.”
However, Kendle said, many would argue that the system has damaged education by having teachers teach to the test, “and it shows the misplaced priorities and understanding of those who are making decisions about education but have never actually been in a classroom.”
“The data on which the grades are based is not the foundation for what teaching, education or our schools are about. Nor does it give parents an accurate description of what occurs each day in that school.”
Kendle further remarked that the grades are based “on a snapshot in time of how students are performing that day on a standardized test.” He said the test was never intended to be used for the purpose of grading the schools, but was designed “to be a diagnostic guide to help inform instruction and curriculum.”
“The school letter grade is a means of narrowly defining school ‘success’ chiefly based upon student standardized test scores in select subjects.”
Kendle said learning is not linear, and that the schools have too many different components that make up what happens each day; he said that as a classroom teacher, he could not emphasize just how naive and limited the grading of schools based on the standardized test is.
He said it is not reasonable to conclude that learning occurs at “some standardized rate for all learners.”
Kendle said the schools and educators are not afraid of accountability and are proud of what goes on in their classrooms.
He said the employees in all of the schools work hard everyday, and “our teachers are mindful of the impact of poverty and other family issues on many students’ lives.”
“They understand that all students do not learn the same way or at the same pace,” he added.
Furthermore, “Our schools are so much more than a letter grade based primarily upon a standardized test… (Students) learn so much more than the math and English measured on those tests that given day.
“What happens in our schools each day is magical and it can never be measured by a letter grade on a test.”