Low Class Averages

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Apr 30, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I have pretty dismal class averages this year. Mostly it's due to missing work, because the majority of my kids just don't do homework or don't keep their work. There are a few who are doing just fine. The level of work isn't too much, and they're excelling with A's, they stay organized, and do the modicum of studying required to do well on my assessments.

    But it seems the priority for a large number of them is sports, socializing, video games, and other things which aren't homework at home. Some of them have good excuses, like they have siblings they need to tend to at home, but it seems like most of them just refuse to be organized despite my frequent beseeching to use a planner, a notebook, an app on their phone, ANYTHING to record their homework (even their skin if they have to, though I try to dissuade them from that). They refuse to. They've outright told me that they don't care about the homework and all the other things take precedence.

    My current mentality on this is just my class averages are what they are. I'm not going to ease up because they refuse to do work or that would dishonor the effort my A and B students put in. I'm leaving next year so I don't really care how it makes me look to my admin. I sneaked a peek at my predecessor's gradebook one time at the beginning of the year and was shocked to see so many Fs in it. I get it now though, I really do.

    In science, it's not just about the content. I have to assess them on how well they write lab reports, conclusions, and analyze graphs. We do most of this in class, but they have to finish it off at home because of time constraints. Some work on it in class, others waste time. I believe that if the students really worked the entire class period, they would be able to leave without any homework, but so many of them just waste time. Because of the heavy skills component I can't just be like "well if they're passing the quizzes, I'll pass them" because the process is as important if not more so than the content.

    I'm just wondering if you were in a similar situation, would you "pad" grades? i.e. grade easier, remove assignments that most of them didn't do, etc.? Or would you stick to your guns.

    Since I've been sticking to my guns, some of the kids have been realizing I'm not going to let up and have been getting some of their late work in, but I'm pretty tired of grading late work after I've already graded the work that was turned in on time, and they're very egotistical about it, accusing me of never grading because I didn't immediately put in an assignment that they turned in 3 weeks late. To which I respond "If you don't turn it in on time, why should I grade it on time? I'll get to it when I get to it."
     
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  3. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    I would stick to my guns too. 'Padding' grades is not something I would consider because that says something about my integrity. And students shouldn't get a free pass or a grade upgrade when they didn't earn it. That's not how the real world works.

    However, for students who want to hand in their assessments but just can't find the time between their personal commitments, or just take longer to get their act together, I will still accept the assessment even if it's late, but I won't give them higher than a C, to be fair to the other students who submitted it on time. For students who decide to mentally join the class late in the year and have massive gaps in their knowledge, I have given them modified scaffolded assessments, but again, I won't give them a grade higher than a C.

    I have a class where the vast majority are on Ds, a handful on Cs and one B. It makes it seem as if I'm a terrible teacher, but I'm not changing those grades. I can justify why I've given the grades so I sleep well at night.

    I'm a science teacher too. A lot of kids suck at the written assessments (they are especially unmotivated) but many are actually pretty good at the practical skills. So even though I have to give students an overall grade for science, I unofficially break up the grades so students have a bit more knowledge at how they are travelling with different aspects of science. So Johnny can be a C for practical inquiry skills and a D for research skills. It doesn't go in their report but makes students feel a bit better - they don't think they suck at everything all the time. So there's incentive to work hard in some aspects rather than none.
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am not sure this is true.
     
  5. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Initially I used to worry about the class average and maybe more importantly, the distribution of grades. Was I "too rigorous"? Unrealistic expectations? I also guess I expected to see more of a normal curve when in fact that was and is rarely the case.One thing that may help relieve the anxiety is to use data and spot check the students academic records and state test scores. Once I started doing that, I found that a students performance in my class matched up well with the grades the students had received in other math and science courses (and I have respect for those teachers in my building so I felt the comparison was "apples to apples".) In other words, the students who were performing well in my class did so in their other classes as well.Same for the lower achieving students. In other words, I wasn't seeing a student who made an A in algebra II for his/her previous teacher make a D or even a C in my classroom. And vice versa. At most grades differ by a letter one way or the other due to a 3 point difference in average.

    I did not spot check grades for students in English or other liberal arts & humanities.Did not feel that was a meaningful comparison.

    After you teach the same subject for a few years to the same age group/ class level, you will trust your grading system. A lot of kids fail my classes but the root cause is similar to what you see: missing work. If you don't do the daily work you cannot perform the work at test time. Most of these students will miss a day or more of school and never ask what work was missed during their absence.
     
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  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Then shouldn't the sole criteria of grades be tests (and maybe quizzes) since they already represent the preparation or lack thereof? If classwork and homework is a method tp prepare students then other than for coersion why put a letter grade? I'm not saying don't provide feedback but ehy grade it?
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    In my class tests and quizzes are the majority of the grade 45%. But labs and projects are worth 35% of the grade because I count those as assessments too, though of a different type. Homework and classwork are together worth 15% of my grade.

    I think similar assessments are to be had in English which GTB teaches. For instance, an English student should be expected to be able to write various types of essays and back them up with references and sources. The best assessment for such a skill is to have the students actually do it and submit their product.

    But it is simply true that if a student does do homework or their projects and other work, they're more likely to do better on the quizzes and tests. It's the old adage, the rich get richer and so on. If you spend the time to do all of the assessments, projects, homework, you'll automatically do better on the quizzes and tests.
     
  8. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    I 100% agree with you but district policy states otherwise. Since they pay me to teach here, I defer to their wishes.;)
     
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  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I wouldn't change anything now, it's too late.
    The only thing I would do is what I'm doing right now. I'm waiting on kids checking their grades on the wall and them coming to me wanting to make up work so they can pass.
    Well, that's not happening, so I actually look through the Fs I have in all my classes (and most are close, 53-55 %) and give them 3-4 assignments to make up so they pass the class. They take it and most of them do bring it back within a few days. I do let them know that this is not my job, and I'm just being nice.
    That is al I will do :)
     
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  10. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I would stick to what you are doing. If averages are low, I would offer students the opportunity to do some corrections and earn 50% of the points back on lab reports or other assignments where corrections would help them learn. I am a big believer in the opportunity to do corrections. Motivated students will do them.
     
  11. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Run the data. You can show students that their lack of engagement detracts from their solid test scores, or perhaps you'll find out that there is a correlation between missed assignments and the corresponding questions on the tests. Perhaps if they see the hand they have in their own grades, they'll see it isn't you being tough, it's them being lazy.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    What are the numbers? Class averages in the low 70s might look bad to some people but wouldn't make me bat an eye.
     
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  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Mine are in the mid 50s to mid 60s. I have several students who have a near 0% in the class though because they do not do anything. But I also have several A's too, so... I don't know.

    We have credit recovery programs, and I've had kids tell me that they aren't going to try in my class because the principals said they could just take online credit recovery and make up those credits. I'm kind of annoyed that they told them that because now they just don't care about doing anything, but they still have to attend my class. A lot of the students would rather take the easy credit recovery online class than do the actual work in class.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My answer depends on how much flack you'll get from admin for low pass rates or high fail rates. If you think admin will back you up on your grades, I'd say leave them as is. If you're going to have to go through a bunch of extra baloney like writing failure reduction plans for each of your failing students or sit in a meeting with admin where you have to justify, beyond what is right there in your gradebook, their grades, then I'd say go ahead and pad them.
     
  15. msleep

    msleep Rookie

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    What is your purpose in assigning homework? Is it a formative assessment? The grade is supposed to reflect their demonstration of the content. If your students' grades are hurting because of homework and their grade can drop a whole letter and a half, then is the grade becoming a reflection of something other than a demonstration of the content.
     
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  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't think they're going to do anything about it. I am also leaving next year so it doesn't really matter to me what they think also. From what it looks like around the school and looking at these particular students, this average isn't unusual.
     
  17. Peregrin5

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    Like I said, science is more than just about learning content. It's about learning and doing scientific practices, and participating in class discussions, working in groups, lab activities, etc. The 15% includes both classwork and homework, because when I do assign homework it's usually just classwork they didn't finish (usually because they are not using their time wisely). That 15% generally covers all of the participation and work they do in my class. And yes, I do believe that if a kid does absolutely nothing in my class (doesn't participate in class discussions, do assignments, work with others), even if they ace the tests, they deserve to lose a grade and a half in my class.
     
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  18. MrTempest

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    One year I was actually questioned to why so many students in my first period had HIGH averages. It just so happened that in my first period I was dealt a good hand, they were all exceptional students and much of them took other accelerated courses. Additionally, that same year the last period of the day was horrible and all of them deserved to fail, but I was never questioned about them. So essentially damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
     
  19. Linguist92021

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    At our school the time the period happens makes a difference. 1st period: lots of absences !! More than 50 % it seems like. I teach credit recovery, the kids go at their own pace, so they can always make it up. The credit they receive depends on them.
    2nd period, still lots of absences, and except for one kid, any Fs or Ds are due to absences.
    5th and 6th periods are after lunch, and that can affect it. My 6th period class can be very sleepy at times, so if a kid puts his head down, he's obviously missing things.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I'm unsure of what this is supposed to solve...
     
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  21. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You can't give an academic grade for behavior, the two are very different things.
     
  22. Ima Teacher

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    We are grading against standards, so you can't pad those. We can't add grades for behaviors like turning in work or coming to class.

    As far as "good excuses" go, they are still excuses. Required work has to be done. We have lots of kids who face struggles at home,,but the ones who want to succeed find a way to overcome obstacles.
     
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