GRE Argument Essay 191

The following appeared in a memo from the Principal of Sherwood Junior High School.

“It appears that the lighting in Sherwood High’s classrooms, which have large windows but minimal overhead light sources, is impairing student academic performance and teacher morale. Records show that during December and January, the two months with the fewest hours of daylight, attendance rates fall, average daily class participation drops, and grades decline. Teacher resignations are also highest during these months. According to a study of Tundra Vocational School, which experiences entire seasons with little daylight, students’ grade point averages increased when Day Glow light bulbs, which mimic sunlight, were installed in classrooms. This study suggests that Sherwood can improve students’ academic performance and teachers’ morale by using Day Glow light bulbs in winter.”

The Principal of Sherwood Junior High School utilizes the given memo to recommend that the academic performance of the students and the morale of the teachers can both be improved by using Day Glow light bulbs in winter. The Principal supports his contention by stating the records which have reflected poor attendance and poor performance by students in the months of December and January when daylight is less. Moreover, the numbers of teachers who have tendered their resignations are the highest in these months. The argument is further supported by a study of Tundra Vocational School which is located in a region that experiences entire seasons with limited daylight. This school saw better performance from the students when Day Glow light bulbs were installed in their classrooms. However, a close study of the argument reveals several fallacies that render the recommendation indefensible.

The arguer fails to cite other reasons that may influence the attendance of students in the months of December and January. There is no mention of the climatic conditions of the region in these months. It is likely that the region where Sherwood Junior High School is located, experiences heavy snowfall. Such a scenario would definitely affect the attendance of students. Moreover, the arguer makes no mention of the percentage of day scholars and the boarders at the school. It is likely that Sherwood Junior High School is a boarding school and most of the children go to their homes on Christmas. This might be the reason why the day scholars may also be abstaining from their classes as they may be visiting friends and family in the months of December and January. Additionally, there is no mention of when the new session starts for the school. If the school follows a winter session, then it is likely that as the session is just starting, the students are not regularly attending classes. On the other hand, it is likely that the session closes in January and so the students miss their school to stay at home and study for the impending tests. This winter session could also explain the high number of teachers who resign in these months as it is obvious that the teachers would leave the school when the session completes.

There may be a host of other factors that affect the morale of the teachers, the average daily participation in the class and the student grades. It is likely that the mode of instruction being utilized by the school is not interesting enough and so the students do not actively participate in the classroom activities. The teachers who are not keen on continuing to work in the school may not be showing interest in teaching the students during their last months in the school. The salary and the perks given to the teachers may be affecting their morale to a greater extent as compared to the daylight in the classrooms. It is possible that other schools may be offering better salaries and additional incentives to the teachers and hence they might be resigning from Sherwood Junior High School. Therefore, unless the arguer rules out all these other factors, it is hard to be convinced that limited daylight is the sole reason for all the problems cited by the arguer.

Moreover, the reader needs to know the number of years in the past which have seen this trend in order to establish a link between the months of December and January and the problems related to the attendance of students, average participation in classes and the resignations of teachers. Moreover, the arguer needs to draw a comparison between Sherwood Junior High School and Tundra Vocational School with respect to the courses being conducted at these schools and the general climatic conditions in both the regions. It is likely that Tundra Vocational School is situated in a region where the climatic conditions are so bad that Day Glow light bulbs are actually required for the conduct of vocational courses which are dependent on good light.

In view of the above, it is evident that the argument fails to convince the reader that installing Day Glow light bulbs is the only solution for improving student attendance, their performance and the morale of the teachers.