ROVA DOVA

Part 114- 80%, acceptable or not?

By Rova - September 27, 2020

 So, early blog, big stories. And, this isn't just a story, to be honest, it's a complaint. It's a complaint, about the NISD grading system, and grading rules. This hasn't happened just now, but over time, and every time we have an assignment. In my school district, and for most classes, there is a grading rule that the student cannot re-do their assignment or fix their grade unless it is below 80. I bring it up now, because now, something has happened, which I find upsetting, and I need to speak out for. So, in Science, I and my two friends partnered up together to do the Mars project. We chose, to solve problem 4- out of the different scenarios and solving options. We were to build a shelter, that can protect our colony form the harsh conditions on Mars. We followed all the requirements, but we got points taken off because we added too much. But, this isn't about me. It's about the whole grading system and all scores. 

I am one of many students who care deeply about their scores and work hard to maintain the 100% grade average and grades. Even if we get a 98 or a 94, we feel upset. We want to know where our 2 points went and what happened. Usually, it's an ok thing if it's like 98 or 93, not exactly ok but it's fine, but when we get say a, 85, we freak out. I have had the feeling many times. Seeing the crushing two numbers that break all my hope for the day and fill me with regret and disappointment. We would want to immediately redo the assignment in the hope of a much better score. But, we can't. Why is that? Because you aren't allowed to redo something unless it is below an 80! It's basically saying, 80 is an acceptable grade! 80%! Who thinks 80% is acceptable? I know I don't, or those other students. We probably think this way because of the way we grew up/ were raised. My parents are Indians, and they raise me to work hard for everything. They want me to do my best and expect that I always do. This is common with a lot of Asian parents, to be honest. My friend is that, and she is like me, determine to always to her best and get the best grades. There was a joke, recently on Twoset violin, that is very true. To Asian parents, this is what grades mean.

A- Acceptable

B- Barely acceptable

C- Can't eat dinner

D- Don't come home

F- Find a new family. 

Sure it may be a little exaggerating, but it is true. According to most grading systems, A is 90-100, and a B is 80-90. It continues downward after that. Anyway, I took my school's grading system to the STAAR test level. One thing every kid in Texas knows when they reach the 3rd grade is that they have to take the STAAR, starting from that year to high school. It's a 4-hour long test, with questions up to 50. You have to take it for different subjects per year. Math and Reading never changes. Every year, students have to test on Math and Reading, and possibly another subject. 4th grade- Writing, 5th grade- Science, 6th grade- nothing else, and so on. Anyway, the STAAR is graded by category. Did not meet, Approaches, Meets, and Masters. Students go into taking this test, with the same mindset as any other test. Oh, it's fine if it's in the '80s or at least meets. And in the end, it's right. Don't believe me? Check these out. 

Link: STAAR raw score conversion table
Link: Spring STAAR results- NorthwestISD
Link: Statewide summary reports- STAAR


Now, I may not understand a lot of the numbers in the chart, but I'm talking from what I know, see, and can infer from. Approaches- 27 to 58. Meets- 64 to 76. Masters- 81 to 100. I know that a lot of there are a lot of questions, the questions are difficult, the test takes a long time to do, and it is exhausting, but how can 64 be meets? 81 is master's! I would rather say a 88 is masters than an 81 if I'm honest. 
I know the graph is a little difficult to see, so I linked the website above. It is the statewide scores link, and this chart shows the 2017-2018 vs. 2016-2017 school year scores. More people fall in the approaches and meets category than the masters. Only about 20% or even less, of students testing in that subject, that year, and that grade level, fall into the masters' category. Even more disappointing, more people fall into the did not meet category then the master category. Why can't most student test with the determination or thought of trying to aim for 100? I'm sorry if I'm misjudging and students do think this way, but I can't see it well with the scores. How should we improve this? I'll propose an idea. Raise the standard. I will openly say, that I have fallen into the meets and masters category, and I think, even once, approaches. I do try my best and so do others, but a lot of kids just want to get the test over with. No one likes sitting at a desk, testing for 4 hours, not being able to speak, get up, or move unless using the bathroom, having to wait until another person is done using the bathroom to be able to go, and then being quiet once done testing for who knows how long! I know the feeling. It is so boring and incredibly hard and exhausting to do! Anyway, if we raise the standard, I think students would at least try harder. Rias the STAAR grading/ testing standard. Change masters to 88 - 100. Meets to 70-88. Approaches 60-70, and did not meet 0-50. I think students will try harder. Knowing that the grades are raised and mastering or meeting is higher, they will try harder and work harder. 

This might also work if you change the grading system for regular tests as well. Change the policy of only being able to redo an assignment form under 80, to under 90. Try that. Kids may just be careless knowing that they can redo anything under an 80, and when testing or doing an assignment, just do it and hope for the best. Do we really want kids to have this attitude when they go to college, or even when they get a job? Just saying that 80% is fine will make kids into knowing that it is acceptable and only work for an 80. When doing a job, they may only think, I've only done 80% of the work, it's acceptable. In college, I'll only do enough to get an 80. Is that the mindset we want kids to have in the future or even to have right now?? I don't think so. If you want more proof as to why we should raise the standard, I'll show you.
Pull up the link for NISD STAAR results. 

What do the numbers say? 5th-grade reading- 14% do not meet, 86% approach the grade level, 64% meet, and only 40% master. Let's check out a  different grade and subject this time. 8th-grade science- 8% do not meet ( improving), 92% approach ( Not that great), 72% meet, and only 43% master. Why is it, in every grade or subject, or even statewide, that mastering is either 4th or 3rd ranking for students falling in the category? Why not 2nd, or even 1st? I know it's a lot to ask, but if we really do change the standard and grading system, it could help raise those numbers and help students do much better not only in tests but even in the future. I only want the district to try changing the grading policy for a couple of years and see how the STAAR results and test scores come out then. I believe that the grades will change and improve drastically, and become much better.  

So, consider the proposal, and why I am bringing this topic up. A bunch of students like me want to redo our assignment but can't because it can't be corrected unless it is lower than an 80, and such an attitude can affect thoughts of kids in the future and when taking STAAR tests. Think about it, if we change a small thing, can we change something that is greater and bigger, and even change the world? 

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