Grading today’s honor roll

Editor:

Let’s look at the honor rolls in our schools. Traditionally the honor roll has been a means of recognizing superior achievement and 10 to 15 percent of the pupils were successful in making it. Today many schools have “honor rolls” with 60 to 75 percent of the pupils listed as honor students. How can this be?

One answer maybe that the curriculum has been dumbed down. Another maybe that grades don’t mean what they once did. It is called grade inflation. Perhaps some of both applies.

It is a problem even at Harvard University where some departments give only A’s and B’s. The new Harvard president is attempting to change this.

When asked why this is happening, school administrators say they are motivated by the desire to have no child feel hurt or inferior in any way because of their academic standing. And all parents want to see their children’s name on the honor roll. It is all part of the “feel good” philosophy. It is a “dream world” where all of the children are above average.

It is no disgrace to be less than the best. Men such as Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill were poor students. It is my contention that when schools do this they are not being honest to the students, to the parents, to the school board, nor to the taxpayers. And the children are hurt the worst.

Making the honor roll should be a recognition of superior achievement. Having made it, some incentive for higher achievement is lost.

Now Johnny, having made the inflated honor roll, can tell his mother, who is urging him to do better, “But Mom, I am on the “honor roll.” And he probably feels that he is doing all that he needs to do.

But Johnny is fully aware of the fact that he will not make the varsity team with anything less than his best efforts and maybe not even then.

In effect the inflated honor roll is telling him you really don’t have to do your best in the classroom. Do we really want to give our students that message?

I think school administrators should give this problem a thorough study and change policy in this matter. I think parents should be demanding this change.

I doubt that one school district should try to do this alone. But if all districts in an area work together on this problem they can restore reality to school honor rolls.

I am sure there will be some opposition. I suspect Johnny secretly knows that something is wrong with the system as it now operates. If the same level of commitment is demanded in the classroom as is basic to making the varsity team, Johnny will have more respect for those doing the demanding.

“Proficiency test” scores may improve. How many students are on the honor roll that have not passed the proficiency tests?

Donald C. Rupert

Columbiana, Ohio

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