A message from High School

| December 21, 2018

As the semester wraps up and marks and comments are due on ManageBac, often conversations turn to marks themselves and their ‘value’. For many years I’ve been interested in the power of marks and how much of an indicator they truly are of students’ current and future success. Much has been written, and many studies done, but suffice it to say there is overwhelming evidence we place far too much emphasis on a number that does not generally predict life success. I saw this great NY Times article the other day, on this very topic. From the article: 

“The evidence is clear: Academic excellence is not a strong predictor of career excellence. Across industries, research shows that the correlation between grades and job performance is modest in the first year after college and trivial within a handful of years.”

There is a movement in the US called “Teachers Going Gradeless (TGG) that, as it sounds, supports teachers in finding new and creative ways to give feedback to students without relying on a number/grade. John Hattie, to whom I refer often, works with meta-data (over 1200 meta-analyses) to determine ‘effect size’ (es) of various educational tools/methods/programmes/life occurrences to determine what has the greatest impact on student achievement. For example, a student’s self-reported grade have the highest effect size! Students’ knowledge of their own scores has a greater impact on their learning than our teacher grade-based reports. Also, homework has an effect size of .29 (.4 is the hinge point). That means, of course, homework generally has a low impact of overall student learning. In fairness, that is mostly due to the type of homework given. 

One of, if not the biggest hurdle of course, is that universities around the world still use marks as the major determining factor in admitting students. Only when that changes, will any progress be made into providing students with the sort of feedback they really need, and we can stop the obsession over numbers.

A few highlights from the Semester:

  • We have new official transcripts that are aimed at what universities are looking for from an IB school
  • The bandwidth for HS staff has been increased to the point that ManageBac works much better; this means better communication with students and parents!
  • We have a new staff appraisal system with rubric that is better suited to provide teachers with feedback on their teaching and help them grow as educators

I wish everyone a safe and rewarding break! 

Rob Wilson

High School Coordinating Principal