Friday, April 30, 2010


Not sure what I'm madder about: what the government is doing or some of the people's comments.

Some people are saying, essentially, Suck it up, Buttercup!, defending the government with things like, "They'd better get used to it since that's how it is in university" and "If students have a harder exam one year, it's not fair if equating's not done." (Those are not direct quotes, just essentially what has been said. :) )

Here's my problem with the first argument I've listed above:

Yes, that's how it is in university. Problem is: We're not talking about university. We're talking about high school. Where it is generally accepted that this type of grading does NOT take place. That the mark you get is what you get. Not only that, but we're talking about an exam that is worth half of the final mark. It's a big deal to have your mark dropped.

Why is there such a negative attitude towards people complaining about this? "Well, life is unjust elsewhere, so instead of being unhappy about this unfair practice, get used to it." Well, that's just a little like saying, "Roll over and die," isn't it? I guess it's part of the group mentality of "you just have to accept things and don't make a fuss". We ought to get used to it instead of trying to change it. Is this thinking the result of mass schooling or is it promoted in the media or what? We did not make huge beneficial changes in our society due to people just accepting things and not making a fuss. With this kind of attitude, the suffragettes were in the wrong, Martin Luther King Jr. was in the wrong. If we had let things just happen and got mad at people for not getting used to it instead of getting mad at the injustice, there would still be slavery in the US, and women would not be able to vote or become doctors, those opposing the Nazis were in the wrong because they just wouldn't "get used to it" and so much more. ARGH.

To the second argument, here's the problem:

How do you know if an exam is actually harder or easier one year compared to the previous year?

Hint: YOU CAN'T.

Why not? Because each year of students brings different students, different teaching, different preparation.

Let's say one year, the average is 66%, and nobody has done any exam prep courses. The next year, the exam is technically "harder" because the government wants the average lower (yes, the government does actually seek to control the averages). Students hear about it and 90% of them go through excellent exam prep courses, work hard, etc. The average that year is 70%. Do results actually show whether the exam was harder or easier? Some might say, oh, that wouldn't happen. But you know what? I've seen the differences in groups from one year to the next. Teachers who do pretty much the same thing, make no radical changes to their exams, and one year, the marks are much lower. Has nothing to do with the work or the tests being harder, just the mentality present that year.

Here's another problem: With the Provincial Achievement Tests, which are EXACTLY the same thing as the Diploma Examinations, just for younger grades, the government takes the results and blames teachers if the results aren't high enough. If marks go up, then they decide to make things harder because teachers are teaching better and the students are now capable of more. However, they go through the exact same process for the Diploma Examination and if the results are "too high", then they blame the exam for being too easy.

Anybody else see the inconsistency?


Cynthia said...

Agreed and very well said! Sometimes it is just easier to complain than it is to bring about change.

I suggest and hope that you mail that post to the Edmonton Sun.

D. said...

Thanks, Cynthia. You know, if the article had come from the Edmonton Journal, I wouldn't hesitate. But the Edmonton Sun... Well, hm... Let's just say it's not as good. It is, for example, the paper that has the SUNShine Girl, who is often a scantily clad young thing. It's not really the sort of paper I would actually want my name to show up in as an author. ;)

That said, I have been toying with the idea of sending something to Alberta Education and my MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly). And I've been sharing the article wherever I can so people are aware and can add their voices to it! So many homeschoolers are already avoiding the Alberta curriculum as it is, it might not encourage them to voice their disapproval, but it may reinforce their desire for something different for their kids.