Deep down, whether some teachers will admit it or not, we have a fear of being considered the "easy" teacher. Nobody wants to be the "easy" teacher. It suggests that students are not really learning and they can take a class without worrying about the course load or the rigor.
I bring this up because, as a school, we were given reports on our grade distribution over the past three years. One of our school goals is to close the gap between the number of Ds and Es we give out compared to the As, Bs and Cs. I like this goal. We have other goals that focus on raising test scores on the state exam, but this is something that strives to move all students up in all subjects areas. The goal is to do this without lowering standards. It is an excellent goal that I think can make a big impact on our students.
I sat down and looked at my numbers and was not surprised at what I saw. I tend not to fail many students and have a handful of Ds each year. Over 3 years, I failed or passed with a D less than 5% of my students. While I am proud of this number, I want to see that shrink even further. I never feel good about failing a student and need to continue to find different ways to reach the students who have given up before we have even started.
I tweeted my fear about being an "easy" teacher and a student replied, "You are an easy teacher because you do not give tests." I think that is an interesting response. Since I am project passed, kids find that easier than sitting and taking a multiple choice exam. Does that make me an easier teacher? A worse teacher? Better? I'm not sure how to really answer this.
If you do a good job as a teacher, shouldn't the class be easy? Shouldn't more kids pass than fail or scrape by? Is it feasible to have all students pass with a C while maintaining the rigor? I'm not sure it is possible, but it never hurts to keep trying. If that makes me an "easy" teacher, I guess I will have to be ok with that.