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View Full Version : California School Inadvertantly Reveals Standardized Test Scores


-Jared-
October 5th, 2011, 09:09 AM
Original Article Here (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/california-tells-high-school-color-coded-ids-based-140944053.html)

Is this the modern-day academic equivalent of the Scarlet Letter? Kennedy High School in La Palma, California gave out IDs and student planners in three different colors to its students based on how well they performed on state standardized tests. The school distributed black and gold cards to students who scored "advanced" or "proficient" on the tests--distinctions that gave them special privileges and discounts at school events and at some local businesses, reports Scott Martindale at the Orange County Register (http://www.ocregister.com/news/students-320444-school-cards.html). Students with white cards--more than half of the 2,400-strong student body--had to stand in a separate cafeteria line at lunch and received no special privileges.
The California Department of Education is now intervening, saying the school's policy violates a state law that prevents anyone from publicly releasing a student's standardized test scores. "It's clear—when you see a white card, that inadvertently identifies a student as low-performing. We really urge them to find another way," department spokeswoman Tina Woo Jung told the paper.
"You see a lot of condescending attitudes toward everyone without a black card," Kennedy senior Kiana Miyamoto, who has a black card, told the Orange County Register. "One [International Baccalaureate] student said in class, 'Hey, you're in IB. Anyone who has a white card shouldn't even be in IB.' It's really sad to see people who have the black cards acting this way." Students with white cards told the paper their separate lunch line was much longer than the one for better-scoring students.
Many schools have reward programs for high-achieving students, but those that obviously single out those who don't make the cut tend to attract controversy. In 2009, parents complained (http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2009/08/st_charles_reviews_colorcoded.html) about color-coded ID cards based on grade point average in two Louisiana high schools. A policy at a Maryland high school divided the student body into 11 different color-coded groups (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701478.html), including students who took English-as-a-second-language classes, who were forced to wear bright yellow badges. The school reversed the policy (http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/9295) after parents and students complained.
Martindale has more interviews with students and parents at Kennedy here (http://www.ocregister.com/news/students-320444-school-cards.html).


Not only did they reveal the test score to everyone, but they instituted some sort of segregation system based on test scores. Does anyone else feel like that was a bad decision to begin with? >__>


So, discuss!

Esper
October 5th, 2011, 09:38 AM
Southern California. Not surprised.

I haven't been to La Palma, but if it's anything like it's neighboring city, Cerritos, then it's going to be a lot of rich, covertly racist, close-minded, SUV-driving people in planned communities who only think of pushing their kids into ivy league schools. Of course no one like that would realize what a bad idea segregating students is. In their minds it's probably a good thing that kids have their scores displayed in order to motivate them more by way of teasing peer pressure.

Oryx
October 5th, 2011, 09:57 AM
The tough part is motivating students to do better without obviously rewarding the kids that do well. While of course, looking at this from outside the situation it's easy to say "derp look at how dumb they are hahaha let's laugh at them", it's not so easy when you're an official in a school trying to figure out how to encourage students to do better, if you can even reward students that do well as an incentive for students that don't care to try harder, etc.

I remember as a kid we got cards based on our grades. If you got gold cards, the level for straight As, you got like 5 free opportunities to cut in line for lunch or something like that, and you got to get into pep rallies first so you weren't forced to sit wherever the teacher put you and you could sit with your friends in other classes (as long as they also had gold cards). I never really saw a problem with it, I had a gold card for one year, and didn't the next year and never felt like I was discriminated against for not getting perfect grades so idk.

What is the solution? How do you motivate students? Is it about private rewarding, so other students don't see? But if it's private, then why would students be motivated? They wouldn't know that they'd get rewarded so they would have no reason to try. But if you tell them that they'll be rewarded, then it gets into this territory, where the school is called out for not giving the students with lower grades the same rewards. Is it about the lines being the equivalent of segregation? Or is it just about the constant visual reminder of a student's grades? Would it be less controversial if it didn't release standardized test grades and instead were based on school rank?

Either way, I for one wouldn't be so fast as to dismiss this, especially on the grounds that the people who thought it up must be a certain group and therefore their point isn't worthy of consideration.

-Jared-
October 5th, 2011, 10:09 AM
The tough part is motivating students to do better without obviously rewarding the kids that do well. While of course, looking at this from outside the situation it's easy to say "derp look at how dumb they are hahaha let's laugh at them", it's not so easy when you're an official in a school trying to figure out how to encourage students to do better, if you can even reward students that do well as an incentive for students that don't care to try harder, etc.

I remember as a kid we got cards based on our grades. If you got gold cards, the level for straight As, you got like 5 free opportunities to cut in line for lunch or something like that, and you got to get into pep rallies first so you weren't forced to sit wherever the teacher put you and you could sit with your friends in other classes (as long as they also had gold cards). I never really saw a problem with it, I had a gold card for one year, and didn't the next year and never felt like I was discriminated against for not getting perfect grades so idk.

What is the solution? How do you motivate students? Is it about private rewarding, so other students don't see? But if it's private, then why would students be motivated? They wouldn't know that they'd get rewarded so they would have no reason to try. But if you tell them that they'll be rewarded, then it gets into this territory, where the school is called out for not giving the students with lower grades the same rewards. Is it about the lines being the equivalent of segregation? Or is it just about the constant visual reminder of a student's grades? Would it be less controversial if it didn't release standardized test grades and instead were based on school rank?

Either way, I for one wouldn't be so fast as to dismiss this, especially on the grounds that the people who thought it up must be a certain group and therefore their point isn't worthy of consideration.

I wasn't necessarily talking about the rewards. Rewarding good grades ALWAYS opens up a can of problems and is never that simple.

What SHOULD have been simple is that is is illegal for the school to reveal standardized test scores, and yet that is what this system did. The reward system should use a different method of determining who gets what reward.

Besides, I remember when I was in high school, the single easiest way to get at least a decent grade of B, was to just do the homework. But the was the biggest problem, most of the students just decided, eh, not worth it. So maybe the rewards should be based on completion of tasks, not JUST the grade. Obviously, that opens the door for kids to just scribble stuff in and say "Done!" but a fairly lenient minimum score could be in place. Maybe some goal that would be somewhat easy to achieve.

Or make the goal be a little higher as the year goes on, ie, at the beginning of the year, you have to turn in 80% of your assignments and they have to have a grade of at least 70%, then later on change it to 90% of assignments at at least a grade of 80%. That way, more students get to taste the rewards they can get by working hard, but they have to keep up the hard work in order to maintain it. If they REALLY like the privileges, they might be more motivated to work to keep them.

Anyways, I digressed a little. And rambled. >_> Mainly, the basis upon which they determined who got what privileges was wrong. They should use a different system.

Esper
October 5th, 2011, 10:10 AM
It's not that their point isn't worth considering. They obviously wanted to reward good students and there's nothing wrong with that. It's the fact that they didn't see a rather obvious problem in the plan they did adopt, plus the fact that they are basing this on standardized tests rather than something perhaps a bit more accurate in reflecting the students' abilities like GPA. (I say "a bit" because GPA isn't the only thing that matters, but it's better than a standardized test.) The whole white card thing seems more like a punishment to the students than anything and a punishment assumes that it's the students' fault for not scoring high enough. Maybe they just slacked off like plenty of students do, but maybe they have learning difficulties, issues in their home life that make studying hard, and so on.

Basically I just don't see motivation as the only issue here.

marz
October 5th, 2011, 10:12 AM
I can see their motivation to do this, ultimately it would probably bring up test scores for people who really did want the special perks, and they do seem enviable. But I'm surprised they didn't see how this could also go wrong. Students would be bullied and unmotivated and think they would never be able to reach Black or Gold status. Oh, and not to mention that this type of regime is illegal by state law.

Oryx
October 5th, 2011, 10:34 AM
I wasn't necessarily talking about the rewards. Rewarding good grades ALWAYS opens up a can of problems and is never that simple.

What SHOULD have been simple is that is is illegal for the school to reveal standardized test scores, and yet that is what this system did. The reward system should use a different method of determining who gets what reward.

Besides, I remember when I was in high school, the single easiest way to get at least a decent grade of B, was to just do the homework. But the was the biggest problem, most of the students just decided, eh, not worth it. So maybe the rewards should be based on completion of tasks, not JUST the grade. Obviously, that opens the door for kids to just scribble stuff in and say "Done!" but a fairly lenient minimum score could be in place. Maybe some goal that would be somewhat easy to achieve.

Or make the goal be a little higher as the year goes on, ie, at the beginning of the year, you have to turn in 80% of your assignments and they have to have a grade of at least 70%, then later on change it to 90% of assignments at at least a grade of 80%. That way, more students get to taste the rewards they can get by working hard, but they have to keep up the hard work in order to maintain it. If they REALLY like the privileges, they might be more motivated to work to keep them.

Anyways, I digressed a little. And rambled. >_> Mainly, the basis upon which they determined who got what privileges was wrong. They should use a different system.

You weren't talking about the rewards except you were. You compared a shorter lunch line to segregation, lol. I understand the illegality of that specific thing but the way everyone seems to be talking is that pushing a child to do their best is a terrible thing and shouldn't be considered. It makes me think of those "no-score" sports games, where they say no one won or lost because they don't want the kids to think that there's any merit in winning or losing. Education isn't something you should just coast through on your way to your low-income job. It should be something you work at and something you put a lot of effort into, and I don't see how pushing kids to do well (pushing them into ivy league schools, if you will) is wrong.

I could see a reward system based on improvement, but the only problem would be the people already at the top, they wouldn't get a reward under an improvement-based system because they were working from the beginning.

Your proposed solution is really interesting though and something I've never thought of before. I actually like it a lot!

It's not that their point isn't worth considering. They obviously wanted to reward good students and there's nothing wrong with that. It's the fact that they didn't see a rather obvious problem in the plan they did adopt, plus the fact that they are basing this on standardized tests rather than something perhaps a bit more accurate in reflecting the students' abilities like GPA. (I say "a bit" because GPA isn't the only thing that matters, but it's better than a standardized test.) The whole white card thing seems more like a punishment to the students than anything and a punishment assumes that it's the students' fault for not scoring high enough. Maybe they just slacked off like plenty of students do, but maybe they have learning difficulties, issues in their home life that make studying hard, and so on.

Basically I just don't see motivation as the only issue here.

The thing with those white cards is though, it's not that they're being punished, just that they're not being rewarded. So is your suggestion for this something similar to what my school did, where they only gave out green cards for A/Bs and gold cards for straight As and nothing else, without combining it with ID or planner? They would have to scrap the planner idea (because obviously everyone has to have a planner), but I doubt that would be a huge loss.

Learning difficulties is a hard problem to deal with, but I feel like that could be more dealt with by the classes themselves than the reward system. If the reward system is based on GPA or grades or something else within the school, that would translate to the person with the learning disability taking an easier class and getting a better grade in it, that's how I would see it.

If you take every reward system and claim that not giving someone a reward is the equivalent of punishment and because of people who can't do better and shouldn't be punished it can't work, then no reward system will ever work.

-Jared-
October 5th, 2011, 10:49 AM
You weren't talking about the rewards except you were. You compared a shorter lunch line to segregation, lol. I understand the illegality of that specific thing but the way everyone seems to be talking is that pushing a child to do their best is a terrible thing and shouldn't be considered. It makes me think of those "no-score" sports games, where they say no one won or lost because they don't want the kids to think that there's any merit in winning or losing. Education isn't something you should just coast through on your way to your low-income job. It should be something you work at and something you put a lot of effort into, and I don't see how pushing kids to do well (pushing them into ivy league schools, if you will) is wrong.

I could see a reward system based on improvement, but the only problem would be the people already at the top, they wouldn't get a reward under an improvement-based system because they were working from the beginning.

Your proposed solution is really interesting though and something I've never thought of before. I actually like it a lot!


Actually, everything in the quote was from the article, not me. XD I originally posted this to discuss the illegality of it based on the fact that the school can't reveal the scores. But a discussion on reward systems is fine as well! XD

And I agree wholeheartedly with you. Encouraging your child to do their best is good, and to take away any form of reward makes trying hard seem worthless. So a reward system pretty much is necessary.

And thank you! I kinda just thought it up on the spot...>__>

Esper
October 5th, 2011, 10:57 AM
I said it was like a punishment because I see this system as having a high visual "segregation"-like element. I don't think not getting a reward is a punishment, but you shouldn't have to have your academic performance out in the open like that if you don't want to.

The system you mentioned where only the highest scoring students get rewards would be better because you couldn't assume that everyone who didn't have one had such-and-such grades because even a student with a few A's and mostly B's wouldn't quite make the cut along with the failing students. There's still something to aim for, still motivation to do well, but no one has to feel singled out. Pikapal's idea seems even better though with a gradually increasing goal.

If the reward system is based on GPA or grades or something else within the school, that would translate to the person with the learning disability taking an easier class and getting a better grade in it, that's how I would see it.
Are you saying this is unfair? I don't see anything wrong with adjusting the requirements for "success" or whatnot if the particular situation warrants it. So as long as a person with a learning disability isn't being pampered with easy classes then their effort would be more or less equivalent to any other student's.

FreakyLocz14
October 5th, 2011, 03:08 PM
This is a great idea. It is merely an incentive to get kids to do better in school. It may seem bad on its face, but I see it as being effective. It lets the student body know just much of their classmates are doing well or doing poorly.

Stormbringer
October 5th, 2011, 04:11 PM
This is a great idea. It is merely an incentive to get kids to do better in school. It may seem bad on its face, but I see it as being effective. It lets the student body know just much of their classmates are doing well or doing poorly.

Are you serious? This is discriminatory and asinine. You know, Jews were forced by the Nazis to wear golden badges to show that they were "different". While not nearly on the same level, you see what it looks like, and how people will interpret it. That is disgusting.

Lalapizzame
October 5th, 2011, 04:13 PM
This does offer an incentive to perform better though, both mentally and materially.

Comparing this to the Nazi regime is grossly, grossly inappropriate.

Mr. X
October 6th, 2011, 08:14 AM
...


I feel cheated now. You know what my school gave those that placed advanced/proficient? We got out names hung on the wall. And ten minute ceremony where they gave us a cheap shirt.

Cheap school.