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# International help sought for berlin school grading problems

I have hesitated to post this here, since the problem itself is not really worldshaking important, however I think it has to be adressed.

In Berlin it is so that orthographic and other linguistic mistakes in math tests are counted as mistakes like math mistakes. This means that your math could be flawless but your grade could nonetheless be less good, because of language mistakes.

I dont know but I could imagine that influential Berlin mathematicians had probably intervened manifold times against this policy without result, so I think it might now be time to ask for international help here.

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I suspect the easiest thing to do would be for a few influential mathematicians with blogs to publicly ridicule this policy.

However, they (e.g. me) would need to have a lot more information about this, to say something accurate.

For starters: when you talk about math tests in Berlin, what level are you talking about? Elementary school, middle school, high school, college?

And is it different in Berlin than other part of Germany?

There should be some information about this policy on the web somewhere... probably in German.

Comment Source:I suspect the easiest thing to do would be for a few influential mathematicians with blogs to publicly ridicule this policy. However, they (e.g. me) would need to have a lot more information about this, to say something accurate. For starters: when you talk about math tests in Berlin, what level are you talking about? Elementary school, middle school, high school, college? And is it different in Berlin than other part of Germany? There should be some information about this policy on the web somewhere... probably in German.
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Just to play devil's advocate, is this such a problem? After all, the idea of school is to educate children and I am personally pro erasing boundaries between courses. Extrapolating to later life, I appreciate it when Prof Baez corrects my spelling and grammar on this blog, even though that's not the primary purpose of Azimuth.

Besides, one could also argue this might motivate children who are good in spelling but not so much in math, by giving them some 'Schadenfreude' when they witness their good-at-math-but-perhaps-not-so-good-in-spelling peers having difficulties during math classes too.

Furthermore, if you make a math (arithmetic) mistake in physics or chemistry, it (usually) counts as an error too.

However I do agree that spelling errors should not count as much as real math errors, but I'm pretty sure this is how it works in practice. I would also not be surprised if the teacher had some freedom in deciding whether to glance through the error or not.

Comment Source:Just to play devil's advocate, is this such a problem? After all, the idea of school is to educate children and I am personally pro erasing boundaries between courses. Extrapolating to later life, I appreciate it when Prof Baez corrects my spelling and grammar on this blog, even though that's not the primary purpose of Azimuth. Besides, one could also argue this might motivate children who are good in spelling but not so much in math, by giving them some 'Schadenfreude' when they witness their good-at-math-but-perhaps-not-so-good-in-spelling peers having difficulties during math classes too. Furthermore, if you make a math (arithmetic) mistake in physics or chemistry, it (usually) counts as an error too. However I do agree that spelling errors should not count as much as real math errors, but I'm pretty sure this is how it works in practice. I would also not be surprised if the teacher had some freedom in deciding whether to glance through the error or not.
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3.
edited December 2013

@John

The school education is different in each federal state within Germany, so this policy holds in Berlin (which is a state), but eventually it holds also somewhere else. I found the regulation here sofar only for the "Oberstufe" (i.e. the later classes within high school, senior high school), I am not sure wether this holds also for the earlier classes and yes the regulations are in german.

Gemäß Nr. 20 Abs. 6 der AV Prüfungen vom 12.Mai 2006 (ABl. S. 2745), zuletzt geändert durch Verwaltungsvorschriften vom 3. Juli 2008 (Abl. S. 1906), gilt vom Schuljahr 2009/10 an....ein kriterienorientiertes Bewertungsverfahren.

translation without guarantee: According to No. 20 etc. ....starting from school year 2009/10 there will be a criteria oriented evaluation process.

Zur sprachlichen Qualität gehören insbesondere die Sprachverwendung (Gebrauch von Fachbegriffen, Einhaltung der sprachlichen Normen in Bezug auf Rechtschreibung, Grammatik und Zeichensetzung), die Kenntlichmachung der Struktur durch Absätze, flüssige Übergänge, Satzanschlüsse, Bezüge, Klarheit der Darstellung und die äußere Form (Schriftbild, Layout, grafische Elemente).

Part of the quality of linguistical skills are the use of language (use of technical terms, use of linguistical Norms with respect to orthography, grammar and punctuation), structuring via sections, liquid passages, sentence alignment, references, clearness of presentation and the outer form (type face, layout, graphical elements).

.

Die kriterienorientierte Bewertung der sprachlichen Qualität geht in den Fächern ...Chemie, Informatik, Mathematik und Physik mit etwa 10 %...in die Gesamtleistung ein.

The criteria oriented evaluation of the linguistical quality enters the subjects chemistry, IT, mathematics and physics with about 10% of the entire evaluation.

The practise is to deduce points for orthographic mistakes or "misuse" of "technical terms", where technical terms include very context dependent sometimes even as it appears made up terms for mathematical entities. Moreover with the point system it is usually not clear what the "grade" for the linguistic skill was and I think in earlier times there might have been not even the 10% limit.

The regulation mixes general considerations like clarity, presentation, layout etc. which should of course enter an evaluation with e.g. stiff rules like the observation of orthographic rules, which may but in general do not necessarily impair the understanding of a text. That is I do think it is important to evaluate also the presentation of mathematical reasoning or results, and actually this (should) takes place already within math itself, but this goes farther. Like to demand the knowledge of partially really strange "technical terms" (these include terms Tim and I have never heard of) which represent concrete formulas, and to grade their orthographic correctness has nothing to do with mathematics. LIkewise is it problematic that you get point deductions for not knowing things (orthography, punctuation etc.) which are not part of mathematical knowledge. That is in some sense this can be seen as if around the "language of mathematics" some strange partially rather context sensitive and even sometimes local language gets superimposed, which correct observation is partially evaluated here. In particular with this emphasis on linguistical aspects and formal layout aspects it seems that the evaluation of graphical presentations may even rather loose in importance.

@Frederik

You wrote:

Besides, one could also argue this might motivate children who are good in spelling but not so much in math, by giving them some ’Schadenfreude’ when they witness their good-at-math-but-perhaps-not-so-good-in-spelling peers having difficulties during math classes too.

I recently jumped on a bus which was about to leave and where I had not enough time to check wether it was the right direction. When I was inside the bus I asked an elderly couple about wether the bus goes into the direction I intended it to go. The man of the couple said grinning: "oh no this is OF COURSE not the right bus" and then continued silently grinning. There was a beggar in the bus right next to the couple. After he had observed this little communication he said friendly: there is the possibility to take that and that connection there and there you can then get back into your direction. His hint was correct and saved me quite some time.

So as this little story exemplifies there are quite different attitudes towards "Schadenfreude" and "Häme" and in fact I might be eventually sometimes too sensitive towards this issue, since I find sometimes the headlines of Spiegel Online already too full of "Häme" to read further. (that is I find for example (often negative) evaluations of how some group members alledgedly emotionally act on politicians rather displaced). In short if someone perceives Schadenfreude just because someone else is not good in school then this feels awkward to me. That is I think I might perceive Schadenfreude in this case only if I rather strongly dislike that person or actions of that person. So I find this "by giving them some ’Schadenfreude’" rather problematic. Schadenfreude is for me rather not a special kind of "Freude", as the wording might indicate (similar to Sommerfreude, Lichterfreude etc.) but is rather including a negation like Unfreude.

Furthermore, if you make a math (arithmetic) mistake in physics or chemistry, it (usually) counts as an error too.

yes but math is a language of physics and chemistry. If you get some grams wrong in your chemical mixture or in a physical device then the whole thing might just blow up.

Comment Source:@John The school education is different in each federal state within Germany, so this policy holds in Berlin (which is a state), but eventually it holds also somewhere else. I found the regulation here sofar only for the "Oberstufe" (i.e. the later classes within high school, senior high school), I am not sure wether this holds also for the earlier classes and yes the regulations are <a href="http://www.berlin.de/imperia/md/content/sen-bildung/rechtsvorschriften/vv_schule_03_2009.pdf">in german.</a> >Gemäß Nr. 20 Abs. 6 der AV Prüfungen vom 12.Mai 2006 (ABl. S. 2745), zuletzt geändert durch Verwaltungsvorschriften vom 3. Juli 2008 (Abl. S. 1906), gilt vom Schuljahr 2009/10 an....ein kriterienorientiertes Bewertungsverfahren. translation without guarantee: According to No. 20 etc. ....starting from school year 2009/10 there will be a criteria oriented evaluation process. >Zur sprachlichen Qualität gehören insbesondere die Sprachverwendung (Gebrauch von Fachbegriffen, Einhaltung der sprachlichen Normen in Bezug auf Rechtschreibung, Grammatik und Zeichensetzung), die Kenntlichmachung der Struktur durch Absätze, flüssige Übergänge, Satzanschlüsse, Bezüge, Klarheit der Darstellung und die äußere Form (Schriftbild, Layout, grafische Elemente). > Part of the quality of linguistical skills are the use of language (use of technical terms, use of linguistical Norms with respect to orthography, grammar and punctuation), structuring via sections, liquid passages, sentence alignment, references, clearness of presentation and the outer form (type face, layout, graphical elements). . >Die kriterienorientierte Bewertung der sprachlichen Qualität geht in den Fächern ...Chemie, Informatik, Mathematik und Physik mit etwa 10 %...in die Gesamtleistung ein. >The criteria oriented evaluation of the linguistical quality enters the subjects chemistry, IT, mathematics and physics with about 10% of the entire evaluation. The practise is to deduce points for orthographic mistakes or "misuse" of "technical terms", where technical terms include very context dependent sometimes even as it appears made up terms for mathematical entities. Moreover with the point system it is usually not clear what the "grade" for the linguistic skill was and I think in earlier times there might have been not even the 10% limit. The regulation mixes general considerations like clarity, presentation, layout etc. which should of course enter an evaluation with e.g. stiff rules like the observation of orthographic rules, which may but in general do not necessarily impair the understanding of a text. That is I do think it is important to evaluate also the presentation of mathematical reasoning or results, and actually this (should) takes place already within math itself, but this goes farther. Like to demand the knowledge of partially really strange "technical terms" (these include terms Tim and I have never heard of) which represent concrete formulas, and to grade their orthographic correctness has nothing to do with mathematics. LIkewise is it problematic that you get point deductions for not knowing things (orthography, punctuation etc.) which are not part of mathematical knowledge. That is in some sense this can be seen as if around the "language of mathematics" some strange partially rather context sensitive and even sometimes local language gets superimposed, which correct observation is partially evaluated here. In particular with this emphasis on linguistical aspects and formal layout aspects it seems that the evaluation of graphical presentations may even rather loose in importance. @Frederik You wrote: >Besides, one could also argue this might motivate children who are good in spelling but not so much in math, by giving them some ’Schadenfreude’ when they witness their good-at-math-but-perhaps-not-so-good-in-spelling peers having difficulties during math classes too. I recently jumped on a bus which was about to leave and where I had not enough time to check wether it was the right direction. When I was inside the bus I asked an elderly couple about wether the bus goes into the direction I intended it to go. The man of the couple said grinning: "oh no this is OF COURSE not the right bus" and then continued silently grinning. There was a beggar in the bus right next to the couple. After he had observed this little communication he said friendly: there is the possibility to take that and that connection there and there you can then get back into your direction. His hint was correct and saved me quite some time. So as this little story exemplifies there are quite different attitudes towards "Schadenfreude" and "Häme" and in fact I might be eventually sometimes too sensitive towards this issue, since I find sometimes the headlines of Spiegel Online already too full of "Häme" to read further. (that is I find for example (often negative) evaluations of how some group members alledgedly emotionally act on politicians rather displaced). In short if someone perceives Schadenfreude just because someone else is not good in school then this feels awkward to me. That is I think I might perceive Schadenfreude in this case only if I rather strongly dislike that person or actions of that person. So I find this "by giving them some ’Schadenfreude’" rather problematic. Schadenfreude is for me rather not a special kind of "Freude", as the wording might indicate (similar to Sommerfreude, Lichterfreude etc.) but is rather including a negation like Unfreude. >Furthermore, if you make a math (arithmetic) mistake in physics or chemistry, it (usually) counts as an error too. yes but math is a language of physics and chemistry. If you get some grams wrong in your chemical mixture or in a physical device then the whole thing might just blow up.
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Comment Source:@nad: * My Schadenfreude comment was not very serious, but thanks for the clarification of your understanding of the word. > yes but math is a language of physics and chemistry * point taken. Math in science is -- of course -- much more important than spelling in mathematics. Still, I think it's not bad that pupils learn to apply their skills over different courses. So I don't see such a problem in the Berlin grading.