What do grades mean? An argument for SBG.

A parent came to one of our math teachers a couple of years ago and asked, “My son has the highest average in the class so why doesn’t he have an ‘A’?”  Why is it that people seem to think there has to be an “A” student in the class?  Would these same parents be satisfied if every student in the class had an “A”?

What if not one student is achieving the expectations in terms of the standards? Then, no one should have an “A”.  However, what if every student has met the standards? Then everyone should have an “A”. 

What does an “A” mean anyway?  For many parents, it seems that an accumulation of “A”s increases the chances of entry into college.  I don’t know if they care about what the “A” itself means.  Does it mean their child, having earned an “A” in Science can apply the scientific method and design and conduct experiments on his own as a senior in high school?  Or does it mean he tried his best to master those skills but still can’t really meet the standard but he turned in all his HW, was attentive in class and was a generally compliant student?  If it is the latter, is he truly prepared for college and the next step in life?  Many parents just want to know what their child needs to do in order to “get an ‘A’”.  Usually parents expect that if their child works hard and turns in all the HW, that the child should “get an ‘A’”, regardless of whether the child actually has met the standards of learning.

Are those the standards these parents wish to apply to all students of any type of learning?  Do they want to sit in an airplane with a pilot who just tried really hard in pilot school but hasn’t actually mastered the standards of flying a plane?