School’s back in session, as all area parents know by now (and certainly as their kids all know by now), so the question some parents may be asking themselves is, “what are my kids learning?”
It may not be immediately apparent when one looks at the new report card system that schools are now using, other than at the high school level.
When your child comes home and the report card states that he or she earned an A in English, it doesn’t mean he or she is a prodigy in English literature, it means they are “approaching” understanding the material, whereas the letter “M” indicates they are “meeting expectations”, or in other words, mostly getting what the teacher is putting down.
There is no definitive way to determine just how well your child is doing in a given subject — there are no marks given.
Is your brilliant daughter in the 92nd percentile for her age? Well, how exactly would anyone know? There is no measurement or mark or grade, until the student gets to high school, then all of a sudden they use marks.
It makes sense there because your child will in all likelihood be looking to go on to post-secondary schooling at a college or university, or at least some sort of course where one can learn a trade or a skill. To enter the vast majority of these institutions, they need definitive marks, like grade-point averages, or one’s average in subjects and overall.
Without this information, there would be no subject medals, or the T.C. Douglas Medal, or the Governor-General’s medal, since they are all based one’s grade in a given subject or in one’s studies for the year.
Moreover, some scholarships are also based on marks, not by vague meaningless letters like “M”; I’m sorry, but you don’t get an entrance scholarship for “meeting expectations”, nor should you.
In an op-ed piece by education reformer Charles J. Sykes, published in the U.S. back in 1996, he said, “Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.”
I can only say “amen” to that statement; he also said other things, like “life isn’t fair, get used to it”, but the above statement really says it all where today’s education system is concerned — and it’s kind of disconcerting that 16 years ago this was going on, and it still is.
So, are schools actually preparing kids for real life? Will they be able to handle reality? I suppose most will, they’re resilient — but I worry about those who aren’t prepared.