Easy A

So, remember I referred to Joey’s science project debacle a few posts ago?


Apparently, it wasn’t such a debacle.


He got an A.


I’m still scratching my head.


Let’s go back, see what you think.  Joey was given his 5th grade science project assignment before Thanksgiving.  Sometime before Christmas, he had his project approved, and his main bullet points approved.  Joe and I knew nothing about this until the day before it was due.  Oh, Joey’s bringing his science project to your house – everything is ready to go, you just need to print it out and paste it on the cardboard.


So, he brings over his tri-fold cardboard display board.  No color construction paper, no pictures to hang on the board, just 3 graphs, showing the difference in battery voltage from the start of the project, Friday in the a.m. (3 days before the projects due), until the end of the project, Saturday in the late p.m (2 days before deadline).  Joey’s project you see, had something to do with determining whether you have the best batteries on the market – or, as his approved title questioned, “Do You Got the Best Batteries.”


Yes, that was the approved title – Do you GOT – I couldn’t believe it.  And, I know that the teacher actually read the form, because she had made corrections to his other bullet point/headlines.  Anyway, he totally suckered everyone – because his testing method was putting the batteries in his X-box controller, each for five hours, to test the level of change in the batteries.  All of the batteries started at 1.6 volts, and dropped to a volage of 1.4, except for one battery that started at 1.5 and dropped to 1.4. 


And the graphs — the only thing we had to hang on the board – showed the batteries all starting at 1.5 and dropping to 1.4.  When I asked for an explanation of this graphing phenomenon, he explained that he ran out of room numbering, so his mother just said start at 1.5.


Needless to say, there was a lot of starting over to be done.


So, I poured myself a glass of wine, skipped watching the Eagles v. Giants playoff games, and explained to the child that I understood the waiting until the last minute thing, that I did it all the time as a child, and the problem ended up being that what you did at the last minute was probably crap, and when my parents went to back to school night, there was my crap next to someone’s project that hadn’t been saved to last minute, or had actually been done by their parents.  And, if handing in crap is ok with him, then by all means, wait until the last minute.  But, if he wanted to do something better, maybe he should start earlier.


We then talked about the problems with his scientific method – specifically that he had not managed to wear any of the batteries down, and that he had actually learned absolutely nothing from the video game playing experiment. 


Then, there was the mad frenzy of gettting everything up on the board.  Needless to say, nothing on the disc he brought over was usable.  It had been typed in Typepad, so everything was locked into a small font.  I printed out pictures of the batteries from the website, the specifications, etc.  And, five hours later, there was something – it still looked like crap to me, but he had something to hand in.  And, even if it looked passable, the underlying project was still crap.


And, I’m still trying to figure out how he got an A on this thing.  The research paper that he handed in contained no research – I know it’s fifth grade, but you can still find at least one study out there on the internet that has already done a battery comparison.  Or, his hypothesis had something to do with thinking that the Energizer battery would be the best because it had the best commercial — he could have at least talked about the commercials, and why the commercial was so persuasive.  His project “notebook” was two pages of illegible scribble on a steno pad, that I had tried to pretty up by giving it a cover.  I guess he got an A because the same person who approved “Do You Got the Best Batteries” is the same person who gave him the grade.  But, I’m totally pissed off.  Why would this kid ever put any additional effort into a project if some shmo in authority just told him that this piece of shit was worth an A?  Everything I said to him about starting earlier, pride in his work, etc. – out the window.  And the thing is, I’m right – and now I have been stripped of my credibility.


You may be thinking, this was only a 5th grade science project, maybe it was worth an A, and I say no – I’m sure there were at least a handful of kids that took the project seriously, started on time, and put together fantastic projects.  And his gets graded the same as theirs?  Oh, I guess they got an A plus.


I can only hope he got an A, because in his Conclusion that he put up on the board, I pretty much made him write a conclusion detailing all of the things he could have done differently, and why the experiment and the project was pretty much crap.


But, I think in this day and age, where everyone gets a trophy, and we pride ourselves on rewarding mediocrity, that’s just too much to hope for.


  1. Bridget March 12, 2009

    Wow, this is amazing (and not in a good way)! I don’t know what is worse – the teacher approving the title, or giving him the A.

    At the risk of sounding like Grandpa Simpson, back in my day we would have never gotten away with something like this, and then ended up with a good grade to boot.

  2. anj March 13, 2009

    While I do think the teacher should have pointed out the grammatical error. (How do we treach kids if we don’t point those things out?) I think the A was given based on the rubric. If the child completed the project on time, tic box. If the (however many) parts of the project were there, tic box. Etc. If he completed the assignment.. proposal, hypothesis, conclusion; attached it to the correct size board, gave examples or diagrams etc etc.. Then he completed the assignment and he deserves the grade.. the spirit of the assignment is what you are getting at.. and while teachers LOVE seeing kids get into the spirit of an assignment they really can only grade based on what is there. I don’t agree with it.. but the amount of crap teachers have to deal with both admin wise as well as management of classroom wise I can see how it leans towards an A. Not to mention with this test based Annual Yearly Progress teachers and principals have to show.. Reading and Math are the only 2 things they care that our children are learning. And sadly that last statement was sompletely serious.

  3. admin March 13, 2009

    Anj – Thanks for that analysis! I think there should be tic boxes for “starting assignment on time,” and “did not make dad’s girlfriend miss the football game.” I guess your reasoning has to be the only explanation. It just doesn’t seem fair to anyone – especially the kids who actually put the time in, and did get the “spirit” of the assignment. Why go the extra mile if you can get away wtih, and get away with an A, for complete mediocrity. Today is report card day – can’t wait to see how that pans out!

  4. Anne March 24, 2009

    I am appalled that the teacher actually approved the title ‘Do You Got the Best Batteries?’ !!! I would seriously question whether the teacher knows how to construct a grammatically correct sentence!


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