"I thought that if it was good enough for the DOE then it should be good enough for me," explained Ms. Smith over a cup of coffee at a diner near her school. Apparently not. After receiving numerous parental complaints, the DOE launched an investigation into Smith's grading policy and found it lacking. She has been suspended with pay while DOE officials scramble to determine how to handle the matter.
Parents objected to the idea that a pre-determined number of students would receive each grade; thus ensuring failures even if all students did exceedingly well on every student measure. For example, 30% of students had to receive an 'A' while 35% of students had to receive a 'B', 25% had to receive a 'C; while 10% were guaranteed a 'D' or 'F'.
Perhaps more troubling, however, is the fact that in order to have 30% of students achieve an 'A', Ms. Smith lowered what qualified as such to include grades of 65 or higher - just like the DOE did for schools. The chart below details the grade range employed by both Smith and the DOE.
Grade Score Range
A 65 or higher
B 51.7 - 65.4
C 36.3 - 51.6
D 23.2 - 26.2
F 23.1 or lower
Ms. Smith, a thirty-something brunette with half-moon glasses propped on the tip of her nose, was shocked when parent complaints made their way from her ears to the principal's office and then into the corridors of the DOE. "I guess I was naive. Sure I thought the policy was wonky but I figured since none of the parents objected to the system being used to rate schools, then they wouldn't object to my using it to report on their children." Looking out the window, Smith sighed, "And I certainly never expected the DOE to object to its own practices."
When asked how they justified giving schools an 'A' that barely scored more than a 65, the DOE would only comment that it is their policy not to comment on on-going investigations. It remains unclear if the DOE would object to teachers utilizing this policy.
Interested in how we came to write this? Go to If Teachers Ran Their Classes Like NYC Runs Schools Then... and I Don't Know About Art, But I Know What I Don't Like and 'A' For Awful As Top-Rated Middle Schools Fail To Prepare Kids For High School and The Stability and Fairness of New York City's School Ratings and Making the Grade in New York City and NYC Progress Report page and click on "2011-2012 Progress Report Results for Elementary/Middle/K-8 Schools" at top of page. It will download an Excel spreadsheet. Compare the "2011- 2012 Overall Grade" column to the "2011-2012 Overall Score" column.