Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by TrademarkTer, Dec 5, 2017.
Dec 5, 2017
Keep your grading standards as they are. The only way to fight grade inflation is not to give into pressure to do it yourself.
As for bringing it up with your colleague, maybe you could do it in an indirect way that involves addressing the entire department instead of just her. You could do something along the lines of asking your department head to bring up grading standards at the next department meeting, and the possibility of using the same grading rubric across the entire department for consistency among all of the subjects, levels, and teachers. This wouldn't single her out, and having this consistency is a good thing overall.
One of the more useful activities we did as a department was one where everyone was given a photocopy of anonymous student work, and asked to grade it, and then compare how we each chose the grade we did (sometimes we were given a rubric). It opened my eyes into how I should be grading certain things, especially in the context of the rest of the teachers in my department. When using clear rubrics our given grades aligned much better.
Dec 6, 2017
I think you should bring those concerns to your department head because it’s hard for you, a colleague, to question another colleague’s marking. She could easily say that your standards are much too high.
I have the same issue too. Students who get As and Bs in the preceding year because of slack marking come to my class and get Ds all day every day. My response to parents is that the course is harder and expectations are higher so the student may not have adapted to this change. Deep down, I know it’s because of slack marking and low standards from the other teacher. But it’s not professional to hang another teacher out to dry in front of the parent. My department head knows about this and tries to do moderation of assessments to mitigate this, with some success. Because some teachers are resistant to change.
Grade inflation is absolutely rampant at our school. The average report card will have about 5 100's on it with the only couple of non-100's being in my courses, biology, Spanish, Algebra 2, or Pre-Cal. The grades mean absolutely nothing and students expect high A's in all classes. It takes a lot of conviction not to give in to the clown show.
Dec 9, 2017
I've fought this battle for years. Funny thing is, the kids know their previous teachers are easy and give out grades. But they don't fill in their parents on this matter!
When I've had parents complain (and they do!) I simply reply that I have high, but not impossible standards. In my course an A means excellence, B means above average and a C means an average FOR THE COURSE! Meaning, if your child is in an Honors level course, this is what an average HONORS student should earn. An A is only earned if a student is well above the average honors student.
If parents compare grades in my course with another teachers' grades, I will sometimes mention my grade distribution in comparison to theirs. When I point out that 85% of a certain teacher's students get either an A or a B, and that 20% of that class has a perfect 100 for a final grade, most parents realize what is going on. Some parents still expect over half of an honor class to earn A's.
Dec 10, 2017
Unless you give common assessments, agree on common grading practices for those assessments, and use standardized weights for homework, quizzes, and tests across all sections of the course, you will always have this problem to an extent with multiple teachers teaching the same course.
Dec 31, 2017
Last job I had, the principal came around to all the new teachers and had us sign a form stating we promised to pass 60% of the students. I seem kind of hard core, so maybe I scared him. But I signed it and quit my job. Well there were some other reasons. For one, there were many upheavals and the one that broke the camel's back was when we suddenly changed from a 4x4 block to nine periods with 2 minute passing periods.
I have a 9 period day, and I LOVE it. We have 4 minutes passing though, and we only teach 5 of those 9 period so it's not bad. Perfect length of time for the teenage attention span. Doing that change "suddenly" though does not make much sense so I will agree with that.
60% seems incredibly low. I would be very concerned if only 60% of students were passing.
Jan 1, 2018
I agree it is low, but there are schools that have had lower passing rates. I know of one on the east coast that had only 48% of the seniors pass. I am surprised that a principal would actually intimidate that way and especially after the new teacher signed a contract at the beginning of the year that did not include that stipulation. The new teachers did not know about this when they decided to take the job.
Of course, what I think we are talking about here is when grades are inflated and the next teacher has to deal with the problem. So I will add more to that point. I think most teachers admit to helping students in various ways - maybe by diluting the content, scaling the grades, etc., and I think the rationale is they do not want the student to carry the blame for the teacher not being perfect.
I think a lot of teachers, even a lot of schools truly believe that many students do not belong in some academic courses required by the state and just want to pass them along rather than ruin lives. I have heard some teachers talk like they are really tough and then I have found out they are diluting the content, providing a lot of cheats, etc.
I think on-line courses - like Renaissance or Edgenuity, Plato, etc. might be the best solution. I am sure those on-line courses would need improvement - divert more money into perfecting them. I think if all students were in the same boat - not able to fool the computer, not able to get cheats from the teacher, etc., then at least there might be less feeling like they have been cheated. If all would be treated equally and just let everything fall in place for a few years, etc., wouldn't a lot more students be doing what they are supposed to do and know they are doing what they are supposed to do?
It depends upon the student population. I've had classes where only 50% of the students passed. At a former school, there were classes where fewer than that passed. If you are in a district where elementary and middle schools pass kids along to get them out of their hair, even though the kids have have never passed a standardized test, you're going to get many failing when they hit high school. Unfortunately, until the district can change this policy, it will continue to happen. As it is, there never seems to be enough resources to give these kids a chance to "catch up" before they're placed in courses well above their abilities.
I had one period with an over 50% D/F rate this semester. I've never had anything close to that before. They simply did not do the work and therefore failed nearly every test. My other periods had the same instruction and same assessments with vastly different results. It happens.
To the now very old OP, you do what is right. Yes, it is frustrating being challenged when your department has the lowest grades but I'd rather do that than offer extra credit for coloring pages to inflate our numbers.
And no, that is not hyperpole or a hypothetical.
That's true! I teach in a very affluent, well-off area so the worst rate I ever had was like 20% D and 10% F in a low track class...usually I have more like <5% F, 15% D, 30% C, 30% B, 20% A, but the previous teacher (based on the students I inherit from her) seems to have like 70% A, 25% B, and <5% C.
Jan 2, 2018
When I did a long-term sub job, I was horrified at how easy the previous teacher graded. However, it really wasn't just her. It was more of a school policy issue. For example, if grades are too low, the previous principal would call in the teacher and demand to know why. We are expected to give different and alternative assessments if students don't do well. Basically, we aren't allowed to give back grades. We are supposed to contact papers when students have a D or below.
Our students do not get homework or know how to study. We have over 100 students, so you end up giving easier tests so they pass. It is sad and ridiculous. Our students basically turn in trash as their work. I will usually have them redo it. However, students know even if they don't do anything, they will pass. I have tried to fight this the best I could, but it is pretty much an up hill battle. I would love to hold kids accountable, but we are even told we are not there to teach them responsibility.
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