First, after we've all ready graded an assignment, a student can get another’s work, slap it together differently, and hand it in for a pass. Duh. Can’t the Ministry of Education or OISIE figure that out? What does this measure? Is this what passes for educational excellence these days?
Secondly it's like collecting bottle caps to win a prize. Hand in enough missed assignments and you pass. Hooray! Excuse me, but whatever happened to pedagogy? We teach lesson A. We hand out an assignment, to help the students develop their skills and potential to learn lesson B. They then complete another assignment before proceeding to lesson C, and so on. By following such logical sequences and being prepared for class, the students have an opportunity to honestly and effectively master our course and earn a good grade for work well done. Doesn't that count anymore?
Let me reminisce about the so called "bad old days". I 'm sure many of you also remember back then. I often offered "credit recovery" on my own like many other teachers did too. It worked like this. Let's say I was teaching English. A student handed in an essay and failed. They came to me. I didn't chase after them. They would ask what went wrong and how they could do better. If they were earnest, I'd gladly give them a chance. I might suggest different ways they could try to improve the paper.
They had the opportunity to redo it over the weekend. If it was handed in promptly Monday morning, I would look it over, and probably give them a passing grade if a good effort had been made. It offered hope and guidance. It also required some initiative on the students’ behalf. Many students did show improvement over the course of the semester this way.
If it was what was once called a Basic or General class, at the end of the semester I'd often then give them a 50% final mark for effort, no real harm done, even if they otherwise would’ve failed. But with an academic class, well then, I wouldn't want to set them up for later failure at college or university. If they failed or didn’t do well, even with help, they would be told to change levels. There wasn't a whole lot of if ands or buts about it. If the students or their parents didn't get it, then the school would tell them too. No bumping up the marks or redoing the assignments to simply get a passing grade. Quite frankly they would of course be ill prepared for the next grade. If they insisted on repeating the course again and didn't pass then so be it. It was called the school of hard knocks.
Of course I would encourage my students in a positive way, for their own good, to try another course where they could meet with some real success. If they didn't then they suffered the logical consequence of failure, which under the circumstances wasn't a bad lesson to learn at all. Possibly it was even quite necessary.
As a high school student during the early 1970's, if you missed a dozen or so classes you just quite plain and simply had to repeat the course. You might under very rare circumstances be able to provide a doctors note. If you could still satisfactorily complete the work while you were away, you might be able to write and pass the final exam. More often than not, you just had to repeat the course. The Ministry still requires our courses to offer a set amount of instruction time. Is that not because it will reasonably take at least that much time to master the curriculum and skills? Or does that not count anymore either? It doesn’t really seem so. If you missed an assignment, then just hand it in by the end of the year. If you are away a lot, then just hand in a lot of assignments to pass. What gives?
There’s a whole new education mindset these day, and I don’t think it’s always for the better. Please correct me if I'm wrong. A lot of what is expected from our students today is just plain mediocre and misleading. They are being done a disservice. How does this current credit rescue nonsense prepare our students to succeed in the real world outside our school doors?
Would the school board allow you to hand in all your work and reports by the end of the year, if you missed the original deadlines? Would you then be evaluated on that without prejudice in your appraisal? What other jobs or professions would accept this either? None? Then how can anybody think it should be any different for the students whom it’s our duty to teach?
To me, it just doesn't make sense, period. It doesn’t matter whatever short term feel good qualities or hope and encouragement it might seem to provide. Handing out passing, let alone good or excellent grades shouldn’t be like handing out candy. Everybody doesn’t get one. With the new credit rescue policies I believe we are failing our students much more seriously than any bad grade in the past could have ever done. Alas! Sometimes I think the whole word is going crazy. Am I alone in feeling this way?