Thursday, September 30, 2004

One of the most frustrating things is miscommunication. For fifteen minutes today I struggled to be understood and to understand. I was talking with my section coordinator about grades. The elementary uses this strange grading system where the lowest possible score is a 50, the highest is 100, and 75 is the lowest passing score. This is not the common Indonesian way to grade, but a mixture of Filipino systems. When I went to her and asked for the break-down of what letters corresponded with which numbers she said, “We only use numbers.”

“Okay, well, could I have a chart or key of some kind to explain the numbers. For example, 95-100 is excellent, 90-95 is good, etc.”

“The parents understand.”

“Well, numbers as grades are used differently in different places. In the States, generally 74 is a C, which is considered average. Here 74 is failing. Don’t you think we should tell the parents how we use the numbers?”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but you worry too much. The parents will know what we mean. I looked in the encyclopedia and it said that grades could be given in any form we wanted, letters or numbers.” [I really wanted to press this and see what kind of encyclopedia article she had read about grades, but I let it be.]

“Right, but we have to ascribe meaning to the numbers.”

“You can tell the parents at the parent teacher conference.”

“Here is how it is done in the States: children go into a class knowing that if they make a 90 or above, they will get an A. If they make all A’s and B’s, they will be on what’s called the Honor Roll. They use numbers and letters, the letters giving meaning to the numbers.”

“That is not applicable here.”

This went on for way too long. Finally, I smiled, said okay, and went back to my cubicle. Using the system I was most familiar with, I gave a letter value to groups of numbers and that made me feel better.


Joy said...

I read an article in my encyclopedia, and it said that you followed the correct standard of procedure when confronted with miscommunication on this scale.

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better....we teachers in the Arkansas are trying to deal with a new system (this is how the children are "graded on their State Testing) with Levels of Advanced--which means preforming above grade level, proficent which means preforming at grade level, Basic which means slightly below grade level and below basic--which, I guess means---way down there somewhere...........
The problem is to be proficent, that is on grade level you must score 80% or what happened to a (79-70) "C" being average....I think maybe we are on the Indonesian Grading system!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that mentioning "in America, we do it differently" was a very effective strategy for reaching consensus. :) I can imagine that it must be frustrating adjusting to ambiguity when we are used to "precision" (which was often just as fly-by-night and haphazard). I wonder if a published number or grade really would mean anything to the students or parents anyway. The parents probably come to the conference planning to negotiate the grade anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest giving random letters/numbers to kids. For example, little Sammy Sulawesi gets a Q. Jenny Jakarta, hmmm, 93. And Freddy Filipino, he's done his fair share. Let's give him a kappa.

Anonymous said...

i've got a fever--i don't need no medicine, i need matt and melody. i'm going to have to insist that y'all post more often.
love, ange

M. Lumpkin said...

Patience Ange... right back at you by the way. I want to read more from the girl in overalls brooding in the corner of the Linguistics classroom. And who is this anonymous poster? The mystery must be solved.