Today there was an article in the Tribune about how words fail in assessing students' abilities, from the perspectives of teachers. He talks about the euphemisms that are used for students, such as "struggling," "slow," and "weak" - because we can't use words, he says, like "stupid" or "dumb as a brick." He goes on to say how useless many of these words are. For example, about "slow:"
I taught a student, Roberto, who quite literally thought slowly. Lectures whizzed past him, and my homework assignments overwhelmed him. “After an hour and a half, I just go to bed,” he explained to me once, handing in another incomplete assignment. “It would take me two or three hours to finish.” The work he’d done was excellent, his reasoning beautiful and precise. He was plenty intelligent—just slow.
So my question, can't we just describe these students with sentences, instead of one word?
The question is becoming moot in today's data-driven educational system. A test-score will do.
In the US educational era with which I am most familiar (1990-2005), a student such as Arnie describes would probably have been labeled ADD in the '90's ('distraction' being considered the cause of poorly-understood non-conformities), soon to be replaced with 'LD [NOS]'. By the time my eldest graduated h.s., the latest refinement in SpEd testing used a phrase: "40-pt discrepancy between IQ and processing speed".
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Well, when my kids were in school, which wasn't that long ago, they had 1-page written reports. There were some test scores, but they were integrated with the teacher evaluations, which were a whole lot more than one word.
Teachers all know that single word descriptive labels aren't a good thing but they are a necessary thing. The labelling would be bad if that was all there is but it isn't, is it? Any school kid has a file full of written reports but the short descriptions are like the current balance on your bank statement. There is a ton of other information about payments in and out but the important bit of information is what's left in now. That's how it is with this kind of reporting. The detailed information is there if you want it but the bottom line is that label. It has to be that way, If there are ten classes of thirty that's three hundred students. If you need to do an analysis of how a whole school year is doing it would be impossible to sift through three hundred reports written by ten different teachers and reach a meaningful conclusion in a sensible time.
I'm accutely aware of this problem at the end of my school year. This year my workload is lighter - I only have 1100 students! I only have to write end of year comparative reports on the classes (currently 19) and I find it hard to do it in a meaningful way. Imagine how it would be to write a report - even just a few sentences - on each one such that if another teacher reads a few they will be able to draw sensible statistical conclusions.This message has been edited. Last edited by: BobHale,
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
We can use sentences for sure.Single words can kill a student's morale shattering them mentally which would deteriorate results.When we have a detailed report, we can track the student's progress more effectively by suggesting remedies for the bottlenecks.That is what we do here in India. Its a simple logic. "A D or F" grade can tell the performance level only.They can't get you to know about the specific blockages to act and remove. Sentences are always welcome