One of those (sets of) pictures that speaks a thousand words

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Last week Rick Hess blogged about the lax grading standards in education schools as revealed in a study by economist Cory Koedel.  

Several of the comments (obviously from those within the teacher educator profession) were fairly dismissive:

Don't conflate the manipulation of grades with "challenging" or with how well the assessment system contributes to learning. Students in education classes MAY receive higher and more authentic grades because EDUCATORS know how to teach and assess. My courses are built to support, encourage, and allow students to revise and grow through their assignments, which often leads to high grades, and THEY LEARN MORE than in prescriptive and traditional classes where grades are INAUTHENTIC and DEFLATED artificially.

This comment brings to mind the description of an elementary mathematics methods assignment sent to us during a recent review of Illinois teacher preparation by an instructor teaching in a quite selective liberal arts college. No doubt that instructor also believes he knows "how to teach and assess."  In the lengthy description the instructor lays out a rigorous development and review process for a "math story" developed by a pair of writers using Wiki technology.  He makes it sound like a nail-biter of an assignment, well-deserving of a high grade if well executed.  Or not...

Here are a few pages of an exemplar product submitted by the instructor:

Four more pages are found here, for a total of seven pages on which we could discern even a smidgen of math content, the first criterion for assessment.

Grade inflation doesn't begin to describe the problems with teacher preparation coursework.  Another large piece of the problem is that - as this example and others we have found demonstrate - it often expects little more of teacher candidates than what they would expect from the students they will soon teach.

Julie Greenberg