Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a ‘Fail’ Becomes a ‘Pass’

Posted at the New York Times.

Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy of the school’s grading policy. He took particular note of the stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.

Mr. Lampros’s introduction to the high school’s academic standards proved a fitting preamble to a disastrous year. It reached its low point in late June, when Arts and Technology’s principal, Anne Geiger, overruled Mr. Lampros and passed a senior whom he had failed in a required math course.

That student, Indira Fernandez, had missed dozens of class sessions and failed to turn in numerous homework assignments, according to Mr. Lampros’s meticulous records, which he provided to The New York Times. She had not even shown up to take the final exam. She did, however, attend the senior prom.

Through the intercession of Ms. Geiger, Miss Fernandez was permitted to retake the final after receiving two days of personal tutoring from another math teacher. Even though her score of 66 still left her with a failing grade for the course as a whole by Mr. Lampros’s calculations, Ms. Geiger gave the student a passing mark, which allowed her to graduate.

Read the full story at the NY Times.

Ms. Geiger justifies her actions as part of a “standard procedure” of “encouraging teachers to support students’ efforts to achieve academic success.” That seems to indicate that success is not measured by what is actually accomplished, but that the "prize" is awarded, regardless of how "tarnished" it may become in the process. The only thing that was taught to this young lady was that results can be obtained with minimal effort as long as the "bar" for success is set sufficiently low enough. What does that say to the other children who honestly felt that they needed to attend class and turn in their work in order to graduate from high school?

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