But I was there every day! I should get credit!

by Steve Wyckoff on February 2, 2010

We have an interesting situation developing across the state of Kansas that I suspect has happened, or will happen, and many other states. With the recent financial crisis we are seeing a dramatic increase in discussions about virtual courses for high school kids. To this point in time there has been very little interest among K-12 educators to use virtual courses, but as schools get more desperate to compensate for reduction in funding, school administrators are warming to the idea.

But the dilemma on the horizon is this. In traditional schools it is not uncommon, in fact it is very likely, that students will show up every day, sit passively in class, do the absolute bare minimum required, and get a passing grade. It takes very little effort on their part to do enough to make it through the system.

However, as students begin to take virtual courses they are required to engage differently and more intently in the course. The reason this occurs is that there is not an adult at the front of the room simply “dishing out” the information to them. They must actively seek the content knowledge and do with it whatever is required.

For the highly engaged, highly motivated student, this isn’t an issue. But for the student who is not highly engaged and isn’t self motivated it creates a dilemma. These students may well be sitting in a school room ostensibly taking a course in a traditional sense, but they aren’t doing any, or much, of the work.

We have seen this situation before. Their expectation is, and the expectation of their parents is, that if they were in the room and it’s a course offered by the school, then they should receive a passing grade and credit for the course. The conflict will occur when they don’t get a passing grade or are required to actually do the work before the grade is given, and it’s the end of the term.

A friend of mine who is a superintendent has already had to deal with this exact situation. Not only did the parents expect their child to receive a passing grade, they expected the grade to be an “A” or “B.” The kicker to all of this, some of the parents demanding this passing grade even though the students didn’t do the work, were teachers.

This is an indictment of the system and the pervasiveness of the thinking surrounding the expectations of schools. Even our educators believe that the student simply shows up and put in their time they’ve met minimum requirements. – Steve Wyckoff

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