More Less Than Zero (Does That Even Work?)

O Mighty Czar,

At risk of further inciting your wrath, I have an observation regarding the “standards-based scoring” post.

This final Kuzniewski quote:

The zero is the most damning of grades because it’s the lowest and has the most significant impact on a grade.

is utter nonsense. As an example:

The average of the four scores 100, 100, 100, and 0 is 75. That’s 25 points different than if all four had been 100.

Now, what is the average of 0, 0, 0, and 100? That’s right: 25. That is also 25 points different than if all four had been 0.

Therefore, that one score of 100 had just as significant an impact on the second average as the one score of 0 had on the first.

Can the Czar tell that your minion scored 100 in Algebra?*


*Actually, I scored something like 106 from answering extra credit questions most of the time.

Indeed: math is rarely a liberal’s best subject; you know what they call a liberal who can do math? An ex-liberal.

Of course, ScottO is wise enough to know this has never been about math. This is about control of information. If parents and students have little clue how they’re doing in school, then they have no reason to be concerned about the quality of education they are getting. All you parents need to know is your kids are getting educated to the standards du jour, and the kids can rest assured they will never, ever see another zero. Or any other number.

Why? Well, put it another way.

One way we can dramatically improve the learning process, increase grade scores, and produce dramatically better results is well known to everyone: eliminate the unions and encourage competitive school choice.

Education has been on the front lines of liberal causes for a century; as a result, we see its failures there faster than anywhere else. Remember: grades work both ways—if a school is producing a crazy amount of Ds and Fs, there might be a problem there that has nothing to do with the students.

Eliminate letter grades to feelings and moods of colors, and the parents think at worst their kids are getting a damn fine basic education.

Curiously, just as the Czar was typing this down at the Castle lobby bar, no less an authority on stuff than Borepatch strolled up and said this:

In re your post regarding the schools which want to replace letter grades with “standards based” grading, the most interesting part of this is what it says about how the schools expect their teachers to teach. It’s easy to teach good pupils, and it’s much more work to teach pupils who struggle with the material. But its that group who need the teacher’s focus. If you eliminate the grading system that shows which students are failing, it gives teachers plausible deniability to not focus on the hardest part of their job.

It’s a ploy for less transparency allowing the unionized workforce to avoid responsibility for doing their jobs. That’s quite a harsh statement, but it’s exactly what a bureaucracy does. Transparency and accountability are to education like garlic and a wooden stake to a vampire. Of course the education bureaucrats hate them.


But rather than blame the teacher—the Царица consistently maintains that only about 18%–20% of teachers actually want to be in the mandatory union—the key thing here to remember is that giving students letter grades also assigns grades to the school district. If you eliminate failing grades out of the district, it is so much easier to cover up how bad liberal education is. ScottO and Borepatch have this exactly right. The former, in why it makes no sense, and the latter in why something else does.

About The Czar of Muscovy

Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia by upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.