Judith King, who has crossed my path several times during my teaching career, works in a real high school with all the usual real problems and issues, and the whole range of abilities represented. She is also a damned fine teacher, even if the Herald has to say “educator”. She is quite correctly appaled by the breathtaking naivety of those straiteners (my spelling is correct!) and simplifiers who advocate the “common sense” (read superficial convenience) of the A-E reporting system, so easy to stick into the computer and so meaningless in any true educational discussion. A-E does not, never did, and cannot reflect the achievements of either teachers or students. It is too often a gross oversimplification that may make the possessors of “A”s and their parents and friends feel mightily pleased with themselves, but actually tells you bugger all.
Then there is this fact:
SIXTY students at a Sydney high school can expect to be labelled failures 76 times over the next four years under the compulsory A to E grading system, the school’s principal says.
Judy King, the principal at Riverside Girls High School, near Gladesville, said 60 of her 1050 students were struggling to learn and cope with the demands of the curriculum in years 7 to 10.
The students do not qualify as special education students, who are exempt from A to E grading.
Aside from the unhelpful stigmatising that worries Judith King, the fact is this bad experience of E followed by E followed by E tells us absolutely nothing about the progress such students may indeed have been making, or what miracles, in some cases, their teachers may have accomplished.