Do you weigh grades differently in elementary?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bewlove, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    For example, do projects and tests count more than classwork?

    I am team teaching in 4th grade. My team member and I decided to have tests count 3 times, quizzes count 2 time, and homework/classwork counts 1 time in the grade book.

    Last night was our parent night, and a parent approached me and wanted to know if it was a new policy. I wasn't very confident in my answer, and kind of jokingly said that it had been something I'd done as a kid and my teammate and I thought it would be a good strategy. I didn't realize, but she deeply hated it and asked that if her kid makes a poor test score then it is going to count three times?! I reassured her that if her child made an unusually poor test grade, then we would always give the opportunity to improve that score.

    She followed that question by asking me how long I'd been teaching. Lol. :thanks:

    Afterward, I asked another grade 4 teacher what she does, and she said that they all count equally. So now I feel like I need to change my grading style, because it's not really fair to have one class' test scores count once, and another class' count three times, ya know? I just assumed that the test grades would count more than homework. Before I get fussed at for not asking, my school has been SO laid back thus far....which is great, but sometimes I feel there is a lack of guidance, and I'm given a ton of freedom to do things however I wanted. If I had asked what to do, I probably would have been told to do it how I wanted it. Lol. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I think I will love it as I gain more experience. With it being my first year, I feel a little overwhelmed.

    So, now I feel like maybe changing it. Would it look bad if before school even started to send an email stating that my teammate and I are changing our grading policy? How do you weight assignments?

    I do understand the parent's concern. That is a lot of weight on testing, but I also feel like we may take two tests per week, and we will have probably at least ten homework/classwork grades per week.

    So with all that being said, what do you do?
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I can't answer this specifically, other than this is why I don't like grades! They can mean so many different things. I will be teaching 4th this year too, and my personal inclination is review classwork/homework but not count it towards grades, at least not as much. It just sounds like too much to grade and keep track of, for one reason. I would rather look to see it's complete and get a general idea of whether they need more support. So, I think your policy is very reasonable.
     
  4. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    I can't give advice based on my own experience because my school is very odd in that the student's entire language arts report card (other than spelling) comes from one unit test. I assure you that you don't want to do that!

    What may work for you though is if you do a "total points" thing. So a quiz might be 10 pts, a test 30-50 pts, homework 5-10 pts, and classwork 10-50 pts depending on the nature of the class work. Chances are you'll have way more class work assignments than tests, so doing poorly on a test wouldn't kill a student's grade, nor stress them out unnecessarily about tests at the ripe old age of 9 or 10 :).

    This will mean more tracking though, which may be more work than you want to do. I'm basing this on how I did grades when I taught high school and we had an on-line grading program where I could enter the grades and it did the math for me. Plus parents had access to it so always knew (assuming they logged in) how their child was doing in my class so there shouldn't be any surprises around report cards.
     
  5. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    I wouldn't change a plan I had given some thought to without at least trying it out to see how it worked. I also wouldn't make my plan match a grade level colleagues to have level consistency. As long as you can articulate your thinking behind the plan, you ought to be fine. Be careful of the appearance of giving parents decision-making power in your classroom. When parents imply my policies are too difficult, I generally make the point that I am preparing my students for high school. You might make a similar point about the transition from lower to upper elementary.
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I wonder how this parent feels about the end of grade test her son will be taking?

    I see nothing wrong with having big assessments count for more than little ones. They should. I am assuming that there will be more little grades than the big ones.
     
  7. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Yes, you are right...teachers figure out grades differently. I agree with the camp that says the older the grade, the higher % tests should count for. In 4th grade having a test counting 3 times as much, is probably too much. It should also matter how large the test is. If you are giving out tests with lots of questions, than that should count more than a test with just a few questions.

    I do think that you should send a letter home to the parents about your grading policy. Let them know your grading procedure ASAP. If you keep enough parents in the dark, one is sure to come at you looking scary.

    As MsMar pointed out, total points is something to consider. I do this and always give 2 points per question on objective questions and 5 or 10 points for short answer or essay responses. Therefore the larger the test or the more essay ?s on the test, the more it is worth.

    What you want to guard against is what makes parents angry at this grade level. That is being a teacher who has very few quizzes or tests, but make it a large part of the grade. Try to avoid that combination.
     
  8. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    In my district, grades are determined by common assessments. So, if a child gets a 3 on the assessment at the end of the unit, they get a 3 on their report card. We don't grade class work, homework, etc.
     
  9. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I teach 5th and grade on points. Tests and large projects are 100 points. The average assignment is 20-25 points. I have at least 18 average assignments, and 5-6 tests/ projects each nine weeks. I've never had an issue with one poor test dropping a grade significantly
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I made everything 100 points except tests. They were 200 points.

    My district later required weighting to make everyone cohesive.
     
  11. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Are you really planning on giving 2 tests per week...how are you going to teach enough material in that little bit of time? Maybe you mean short quizzes?
     
  12. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I think it depends on the school and your grade level. My grade level actually only reports tests. Those are the only grades. No homework grade, no participation grade. Nothing else. Only tests grades count and each test grade is weighted the same.
     
  13. Ms_C

    Ms_C Comrade

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    My previous district had a grading policy that everyone had to follow. Formative assessments were worth 60 percent and Summative were worth 40 percent.
     
  14. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I taught 4th grade math last year. My tests were worth the equivalent of 7 regular assignments, so they had a 7x value. In a 9 week period my kids had 60+ grades in the gradebook, including one or two tests. Quizzes were worth 3 regular grades, and projects were worth 5 regular grades. And honestly, it didn't affect averages but just a little bit--because the kids had so many grades in the gradebook. Plus, I already knew how the students would do before they even took the test because I had monitored how they worked leading up to the tests. I say keep it the way it is.
     
  15. MsMar

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    This is exactly how mine does it too and I find it's definitely not always the most accurate reflection of a child's ability. The grammar portion of the assessment is super picky (I as a teacher often have to refresh my memory on why exactly the correct answer is correct) and I often have to spend part of my parent teacher conference time assuring parents that their child's grammar is fine.

    Sorry to get off topic, mini rant about that, it just irks me the way our report card is done :p.
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I want to address your comment about retesting. It bothers me that tests are seen as the end goal. We should not be teaching so kids can pass a test. We give tests to measure the depth of student learning and determine our next steps. If a student does poorly, that means he hasn´t met the learning goals. Failure is not our goal. Learning is. A student who does poorly on a test is a call for further action. The test is a tool to guide us as teachers. As such, your response about providing an opportunity to improve the test score was perfect.
     
  17. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    When you say two tests per week, does that mean 2 tests total in a week or two tests in each subject per week. If you are teaching 5 subjects (such as many 4th grade teachers do), those 10 tests is a lot on you and the students. If you mean only a total of 2 a week with all subjects added together, that is a bit lower than I and many teachers do, and I'd recommend a bit more for 4th grade.
     
  18. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

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    Probably only two tests per week total. I am just reading/social studies, so we will have a spelling test each week, and then we will have a reading test most weeks. I think social studies will probably be every other week.

    I should add that we had a small turnout for parent night, so most parents are unaware of our current grading system. Just six parents showed up. We discussed it with the other fourth grade teachers, and since they aren't weighing assignments we decided it was only fair if we didn't. I sent an email to those parents who came and said,

    "I am emailing to let you know that the fourth grade team has decided to change the grading procedures and have all tests, homework, and classwork count equally. Hopefully, this will alleviate any confusion about the value of an assignment in the grade book. Thanks, and looking forward to a great year!"

    I tried to do it in a way that the parent who complained doesn't feel like the change was made on her behalf...

    Also, school doesn't start until next Tuesday.
     
  19. NewTeacherNJ

    NewTeacherNJ Rookie

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    Tests and quizzes are the same thing for all the elementary schools in my district. It's different in middle and high school where the kids get a syllabus breaking down what percentage of your grade is what. Example tests may be 50%, quizzes 30%, homework 20% etc or however they feel like breaking it down.

    Elementary to me is to young for that they get a grade for a test or project out of 100 and it counts towards the average of their overall grade. I usually use rubrics for projects or essays to determine the grade but it is weighed the same as a test grade. Homework i remove points off the final grade if they miss more than 2 assignments for the subject that semester. Classwork is done is class.
     
  20. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I like this. :)
     
  21. OhThePlaces

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    I teach 3rd grade. We weight test grades at 40%, quizzes at 30%, classwork at 20%, and spelling/grammar work at 10%. I don't believe in grading homework.
     
  22. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I'm grade 3... I have no formula and don't give tests in ss or science. I grade those on projects, activities, hands on, class discussions... I give spelling tests, but grade for me depends on application in writing. I give math tests, but have multiple benchmarks on my report card for math and count daily work, kid watching as much as tests. Reading is based on fluency, comprehension and reading behaviors, again multiple benchmarks. Writing is similar to reading as we follow a workshop model.:2cents:
    No parent as ever questioned me on my grading. This could be due to ongoing and open weekly feedback via graded work with comments in Friday folders, email, phone calls for concerns. This year we'll be using standards based report cards with rubrics so there will be more transparency and accountability.:thumb:
     
  23. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Every quarter ends up getting graded differently because each quarter has different types of assignments. Second quarter always has a lot of smaller assignments. Third quarter has a major, multi-disciplinary research project with several different grades. We do a lot of writing first quarter, etc.
     
  24. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    When I taught gen ed I just assigned different point values to things to make the most important things count for more rather than weighting things two or three times or whatever. Tests were worth the most, then quizzes, then assignments. I did not give points for participation or assignments we did together in class, since this wouldn't be an individual assessment. Homework still "counted" so parents wouldn't be all up in arms, but I believe I literally gave 5 points for it or something minuscule like that, so it didn't really effect overall grades. Some of my lowest students had really involved parents and they'd bring back beautiful homework, but it wasn't a reflection of how much they actually knew independently, so I didn't want to use it it inflate their grades. Personally, I wanted my grades to be an accurate reflection of how well the students actually mastered the content. Our report cards had a separate section where we could assign a "grade" for behavior, effort, participation, etc. so I could recognize students for effort in that section.
     

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