Recently I have had a conversation about class averages on a standardized exam. The conversation made me remember a story I once read:
John was interviewed for job at a factory were the management consisted of Dave, his brother, and 6 relatives. The workforce consisted of 5 foremen, and 10 workers. Dave informed John that the pay was well here, with an average salary of $600 per week. After one week of work, John was upset as he only was paid $200. John stormed into Daves office, and accused Dave of lying. Dave, the magical mathematician, explained "Every week I get $4800, my brother gets $2000, my six relatives make $500, each foreman gets $400, and the ten workers get $200. Averaging to a salary of $600 per week."
Unless, we talk about mean, median, and mode, the AVERAGE, can be meaningless.
Also, what should be more important, the learning in the class or the class average? When we start worrying about the marks students receive on an exam or diploma we lose sight of our actual goal. Teaching to the test, inflating grades, or manipulating assessment practices is what teachers start to do, while changing pedagogy should be the answer. The bottom line, however, class average should not be a concern to a teacher, where actual learning should be the first priority.