As I've commented often on these broadcasts, the public schools succumb to fads from time to time, in the hope that some new fad will raise test scores of the students. Several years ago, self-esteem was one of these popular fads. That was an attempt to make students feel good even if they were not learning anything.
The latest fad is to shift the goal of public school education from "standards" to "competencies." School officials explain the difference as teaching "what students can do" as opposed to "what students know." Two of the ten competencies that New Hampshire school officials now want students to master, and which the teachers are supposed to promote and measure, are the "ability to get along with others" and "self-management." Already, 30 schools in New Hampshire have signed up as so-called "Competency-Based Assessment Schools." The New England Association of Schools and Colleges is urging all schools in New England to move away from traditional academic standards and toward so-called competencies.
As part of the shift from standards to competencies, some schools are replacing the traditional A-to-F grading scale with a 5-to-1 scale. Teachers at Concord High School, for example, will mark student's report cards with grades ranging from 1 (for students who don't grasp a given competency) to 5 (for students who have mastered the competency). School officials explain that the shift is intended to strip grades of association with the teachers' judgment about the pupil. Apparently the schools think that students who are having a difficult time with class material will be
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