I’m very proud of my Daughter. She has survived the first term of High School. And has done exceptionally well. Now I know I have a smart kid who loves to learn new things however I was concerned at how she would go when it came to the difference between primary school and high school. Surprisingly she jumped right in. After receiving her report card I couldn’t be happier but now I’m starting to wonder if the education system is failing her. Her best subject is Spanish in which she earned an A+. In talking with her Spanish teacher I inquired as to how we could extend her further as obviously this is something she is good at. The teacher’s response was to tell me I should ask for her to skip a grade as she felt that my daughter could be still achieving this result in Year 9. My daughter isn’t achieving the same results in her other subjects (similar but not the same), nor does she want to leave her friends and nor do I believe she is socially and emotionally equipt to skip a grade. This got me thinking about our education system. At the point where a student is receiving the highest possible result in the grading system whether this is a 5 point scale, a 7 point scale or a 50 point scale we are telling our students that there is no more to learn at this stage in your life. Why can’t students if they can achieve an “A+” in Year 7 subject not move on to the Year 8 subject? Why aren’t our high school classes based on levels rather than age? Once we leave school whether in the work place or in further study age is no longer a factor, ability is. While our classes have students in them that range from learning support to gifted we are failing our students. Now I need to make it clear I’m not necessarily an advocate for streamed classes as I do believe that mixed abilities in classes helps all students as there is plenty students can learn from each other with the different perspecitives students bring to the classroom.
But what are we doing to help our students who happen to excel in one area or struggle in another. I do think we need to rethink how our high school classes work. Whats stopping us from setting up a system of units where each subject has a selection of units at each level. Once you receive a passing grade in a unit you could select from the same list or from the next level of units. Take my hypothetical Economics Course below. You must start in Level 1 once you complete a single unit with a passing grade you can then move to Level 2. If for example the Globalisation and Trade unit needs the International Economics unit then it would be listed as a prerequisite.
I know this is potentially a complicated or messy system however its just a suggestion…
Please let me know some of your ideas of how to make our education system suit students of all ages and ability levels…
What Kind Of Grading System Should We Use? (Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo)