Recently I come across the following scale in a national research report to grade each state’s education performance within numerous areas. Do you see anything questionable about this scale?
Grading Curve: A (93-100), A- (90-92), B+ (87-89), B (83-86), B- (80-82), C+ (77-79), C (73-76), C- (70-72), D+ (67-69), D (63-66), D- (60-62), F (0-59)
If you aren’t scratching your head yet, please allow me ask another question. If you are an employer, a human resource or a quality control manager what expectations do you have toward the performance of your employees? In other words, do you expect your employees to know 50%, 60%, 75%, 80%, 90% or 100% of their job skills or job description? At what level of knowledge and years on the job, would you consider that employee’s performance to be sub-standard and would not entitle her or him to a promotion or a raise and might be within the area of specific discipline strategies from suspension to termination?
Now you might be thinking what is this lady talking about. Common sense dictates that every employee should know at least 75% or 3 out of every 4 requirements of their job and within a certain time frame progress to 100%. Errors are costly in business and employees’ errors are extremely expensive as they have a cascade affect within the organization.
Even though the above scale is for a national research report on education in America, this scale is present in many classrooms throughout this country. What has happened is that the low expectations within the classroom have migrated up and now are affecting research organizations that consider 60% as passing. F is failing and everything above F is passing. From a simple performance perspective, if we don’t fail, we have success because success has been defined at 60%.
These low expectations have contributed to the low results that have been documented through such research as the National Assessment of Educational Progress where for example reading scores collectively for 17 year olds over the course of 33 years have not changed.
The high standards of 40 plus years ago where anything less than 75% was failing are non-existent in the majority (that being over 50%) American schools. NOTE: As a former school board trustee, I continually fought to raise the bar to 75% as passing, but that outraged teachers, parents and students who argued such standards would prevent the students from playing sports. For playing sports was no longer a privilege, but a right.
Many young people experience 12 years of conditioning where doing less than your personal best is OK. And guess what? You even get rewarded by a promotion to the next grade. How cool is that? Now, these same young people go into the workforce with a belief that it is OK to just get by as long as you don’t fail. During my 20 years in management, I saw this on a regular basis with many of our new hires.
If we, as business owners, truly desire to improve the performance of today’s employees, we need to raise the standards within both the schools and the organizations that report on the schools’ and states’ performance. Until we stop this cycle of mediocrity, we will continue to receive employees who expect the world without working hard at acceptable levels of performance. And these employees will continue to view 60% as success.
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