Pass or Fail: Rewriting Standards to Eradicate Pass-Fail Strategies
In this multi-part series, I provide a dissection of the phenomenon of retention and social promotion. Also, I describe the many different methods that would improve student instruction in classrooms and eliminate the need for retention and social promotion if combined effectively.
While reading this series, periodically ask yourself this question: Why are educators, parents and the American public complicit in a practice that does demonstrable harm to children and the competitive future of the country?
When it comes to getting rid of our current pass-fail system, I have developed six strategies (click to see them all). The first is new standards that pull away from pass-fail initiatives to a better outcome for students.
Clear standards must guide the actions of all stakeholders in the education process. Administrators need clear standards to support policy decisions, just as teachers require a clear description of what they must teach, how they must teach it, and how they must assess their students’ learning. Students also need to know what they must learn and do to demonstrate their learning in an assessment process that does not entail the rigid standardization so characteristic of today’s tests. At some point in their K-12 career, students need to learn how to support themselves or seek out additional support from the school system when they encounter difficulties.
An emphasis on standards in the comprehensive sense advocated here can help to solve many of the existing problems in the K-12 system. As part of a broader strategy, an emphasis on standards can also help to ensure that all key players are on the same page. The ultimate vision is to provide a quality education that prepares students for college and high-level careers. Over the short term, the goal is to ensure students have ample opportunity to achieve success throughout their K-12 school career and to demonstrate their learning by making use of an assessment procedure that suits their temperament and accurately reflects their accomplishments. Clear and comprehensive standards provide a clear pathway to success as well as access to learning resources of proven efficacy.
These standards are needed before any shift away from the pass-fail mentality is possible and the time to start writing them is now.