Monday, April 4, 2011



I am offering my students a grade change incentive based upon scoring above Basic on the CST's in Biology.

This means that a student can in principle change a lower grade, including a failing grade, into a passing grade. In order to help students achieve this incentive, I will be giving a Review Packet this week and in addition I am offering a CST Review this Saturday (April 9th), between 8:30 and 11:30 in Room N-63 on the Bullard Campus.

Obviously, I can't take all students, so this has to be on a first-come, first-served basis. Students must sign up and I have to be able to confirm with the parent or guardian that they are choosing to attend. Please encourage your student to consider taking advantage of this unusual opportunity, which has the ability to positively impact both semester grades for Biology.


Scott Hatfield

Biology Instructor

Bullard High School


Anonymous said...

THIS IS CHEATING! Plain and simple. As a fellow educator, I urge you to stand up against your administration who have stepped over the line to impact their precious API scores.

Stop manipulating students with this unethical practice. You know better.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Thanks for your comment, which seems to proceed from the presumption that offering this incentive is in some way unethical.

I'm not sure that I agree. After all, moving from a failing grade to a passing grade is not going to make someone a Rhodes Scholar, nor will moving from a 'B' to an 'A' in and of itself make one of my charges a valedictorian.

Further, this is neither an Honors or an AP course, and the vast majority of my students are not going to earn even a two-year degree, much less matriculate to a UC. As with most introductory courses in a high school setting, the final grade is heavily-weighted towards demonstration of work completed, rather than the excellence of the product. Even so, the failure rate in my course has consistently been greater than 25 percent, despite a grade scale that allows a 'C' letter grade for a percentage score of 56 percent.

Further, there is nothing in state law that prohibits this practice, and in fact I am not the only science instructor at my school site who offers this incentive. If recent years are any guide, I will change perhaps two dozen grades as a result of this practice, with most of them being 'D's' changing to 'C's'. The 'A' and 'B' students typically do not require motivation to achieve above-average scores, you see.

Finally, I and the other science instructors at our site offer this incentive on our own. We were not prompted by administration to do it, nor was I in any way pressured to offer a review session on the weekend for students. I did it to help them achieve their goal.

And what is that goal? Telling a kid who is facing the prospect of summer school or other remedial coursework that there might be an avenue to resurrect their grade to 'passing' is, no doubt, a form of manipulation. But you could say the same thing about gold stars, happy faces and class parties, right? Any attempt to motivate student achievement could be described as manipulative, just as any attempt to 'hold the line' on academic standards can be described as rigid and draconian. At the end of the day, I have a clear conscience about this practice, because (frankly) the standard for excellence in my course where testing is concerned is higher than that of the state of California.