Friday, May 31, 2013

A-F: Why?

"What the hell is going on out here" - Vince Lombardi

I think this quote is a very accurate description of how most #OKlaED feels regarding the A-F grading system.  Welcome to the age of Educational Accountability.  I say welcome because most of us (including me) were or still are in a state of denial.  Yes we are sheep; naive in the ways of politics and privatization of core government services.  Accountability! Doesn't sound like too awful of a word.  How can you be against holding people accountable?  Oh how wrong were we. As a taxpayer, I think accountability is a grand idea.  I want good roads, safe bridges, quality hospitals, clean water, and a host of other things.  I want the police to "protect and serve," and I want them held accountable if they don't protect or serve.  Sounds simple in theory, but I'm not living in theory; I'm living in the real world where theory always sounds good but rarely is.  

Allow me to take a shot at the A-F system.  It is by far the biggest and most absolute non-working contraption ever conceived in the history of the world.  I know that is a big statement, yet I feel that it is also accurate.  Let me justify my remarks a little bit.  As a parent who has lived in your district for your entire life, do you actually care about the mathematical formula or the AVERAGE?  Say you think your child's teacher is not doing a quality job for your child, do you care that the school's average is an A or a B?  Are you going to stop thinking your child is being mistreated when during a meeting with the teacher the principal says "just look at our report card and you will see that we are an A school"?!  "Oh in that case, I will stop being upset at the treatment of my child because the school's grade is so good" will NEVER be a response to this situation!  So what does the average of the school do for you here?  NOTHING!  Second example, your daughter just made a 5 on the AP English Comp test, just earned a 32 on the ACT, and just accepted a full ride National Merit Scholarship to Oklahoma State University.  Are you going to run up to the principal and complain that your child isn't getting a very good education because the high school's A-F grade is a C?  NOPE!  Why, because parents care about how their child's education is going and not the mathematical average of all kids.  

The only logical explanation for the grade is for people who might want to move and have a choice of districts or a company that might want to relocate.  I'm betting the family moving and looking for a school for their child will look at a lot more than the school's A-F average.  I'd venture to say that housing, neighborhood, and other amenities rank higher on the list.  However, for those who are looking solely at education to make their decision, I think they make their decision on things that aren't even considered in the A-F formula.  For instances, where in the formula is the calculation for Clinton's back to back Legal Team State Championships?  Where in the formula is the calculation for the Academic All Staters, National Merit Scholars, the West Point Appointees, Band State Championship, the Vocal Music State Sweepstakes Champions, the 30 or so Vocal and Band All Staters, or the school's 16th State Football Championship?  Not to mention, Clinton's AG program produces State and National FFA degrees every year; we've had multiple State and National honorees in FCCLA every year, our Golf and Tennis teams make the State Tournament every year, and every kid in school gets an iPad.  Where is that in the A-F formula?  I've said for ever there is more to education than you can measure by taking a test.  I think those things I mentioned matter, and I think they matters to parents too!