Why Johnny Can't Fail Summary

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In the article, “Why Johnny Can't Fail”, Jerry Jesness admits he has played a part in the “floating standard”, but he does not agree with it. The floating standard lets students proceed to the next grade level even if they are not fully prepared. Jesness claims the floating standard is easier to give into rather than to set high standards that some students may not meet because having it in place not only keeps students happy, but also keeps the parents content. When Jesness first began teaching he failed students, but learned that giving students the grades they deserved was not the norm. He soon “fell into line” after the principal of the school called a meeting with him and the parents of the students he was failing. Even though Jesness presented very good reasons as to why they were failing, it did not matter. After being let go from his teaching job he realized there was no way around the floating standard, so he began to dumb down the curriculum and in return this put all of the students at the same level even if some could excel if they were pushed harder. Jesness brings into view the idea of a fixed standard, and asserts that state testing such as the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills does not grant students the ability to learn as much as they could. Jesness goes on to say that if students were to take Advanced Placement tests then this “would free teachers from the pressure to adjust the content of their courses and would assure students and their parents that the standard for each course is fixed, not floating”. In the end, Jesness believes that students and parents should be given the option of either a fixed or floating
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