The Old “Bell Curve” Mentality
Since the 1850’s, the “Bell Curve” mentality has permeated education. This way of thinking produces these thoughts: “If too many students succeed, the class must be too easy. If too many students fail, the class must be too hard.” The higher the education level, the more blatant it becomes; in 2004 one university decided to limit the number of A’s given! Bell Curve mentality is more obscure in K-12 education, yet it is still prevalent. The “Bell Curve” has influenced the way teachers validate their programs (low success rates mean high standards) and it prompts the unavoidable conclusion that a lot of mediocre achievement is “just right.” The underlying beliefs of the “Bell Curve” mentality are:
- Achievement is a function of ability: some students have it, and some do not
- Success in learning is for some-not for all
The system is designed to “sort people out” and identify a limited number of “winners”
Today, most schools say that all children can learn and the federal government has made it clear that “no child is to be left behind,” yet this directly conflicts with the original learning and assessment structures that the Bell Curve mentality built into our schools. New programs and activities cannot be added on to these underlying structures and be expected to have sustainable results.
The “J Curve” Mentality
Sustainable school and learning improvement must come from a systemic change to processes and structures that support the “J Curve” mentality – where most students succeed. The J Curve mentality’s fundamental beliefs are:
- Achievement is a function of time and motivation
- Improve the system until all or most students are achieving at a high level
- Belief is a self fulfilling prophecy
In order to achieve the results that the J Curve mentality advocates, new structures need strive for the J Curve, yet still enable educators to validate their high standards.
J curve results is indicative of Quality Management, Continuous Improvement and Systems Thinking processes.It is the future’s standard for validating courses and schools.
GATEWAY TO MASTERY® provides the thinking, tools and techniques to make it a reality now.