Fellow Teacher is really easy grader... I am more average....

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Jerry Dill, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Mar 18, 2017

    I teach at a small private school, and one of my fellow teachers is brand new to high school teacher (i.e. she's never taught high school before). She really wants EVERYONE--the headmaster, other teachers, other students, staff--to like her. So she is basically a doormat for anything anyone wants. In her classes, she passes out A grades to everyone except the highly defiant students. She doesn't really evaluate quality as long as a student completes the work. Even for moderately defiant students, she gives B grades. A student has to do absolutely nothing to get a D or F from her.

    On the other hand, I do evaluate the quality of a student's work. I have a rubric that I am transparent about and expect students to meet the rubric requirements, and if they do, they receive A grades, but if they do not they receive B, C, D or F grades. I assess fairly frequently with short quizzes, and every 4-6 weeks, after a unit is completed, I give a short-essay question test. My tests are all material that was previously assigned for homework or discussed directly in class, but require reading comprehension and analysis. My good students, who do all the homework, are earning A grades, but the students who do not hand in homework, study for quizzes, etc. generally are getting B, C, or D grades. So by comparison with the easy grading teacher, the students view me as more demanding, a more difficult grader, etc.

    I even offered all 4 of my classes extra credit assignments worth a decent amount of points, and as of now only two students have finished the extra credit. So apparently the students with C grades, don't care enough to do some easy extra work to raise their grades to B- or C+.

    The headmaster is not the most academically minded guy, and he has said he never gave lower than a C in his years of teaching.

    There are a few other teachers at my school, too. Two are more average-grading teachers, but the Physical Education teacher also gives out all A grades.

    Thoughts on how to respond? Maintain my integrity as a grader? Keep to the reasonable standards I have set? Lower my standards so that by comparison I am not the "meanie" who actually asks for quality?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Mar 18, 2017

    Are you under scrutiny or pressure to change your grading policy?
     
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  4. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Indirectly but not directly. The headmaster has not directly asked me to revise my grading, but he does notice which teachers are popular among the students and seeing her easier grading policy makes some students like the Easy A teacher more than me. The headmaster also has talked about doing "credit recovery" to change D and F grades from the transcripts of seniors and just dropping bad grades entirely off the transcripts of seniors who have gotten bad grades in their high schools before starting our high school. He wants all the seniors to get accepted to colleges, so our high school gets a good reputation of being a feeder to good colleges.
     
  5. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Your high school will not have a good reputation if students can't hack the work once they get to college.
     
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  6. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    My headmaster is not always a long-term thinker, nor a man with a great amount of integrity.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I would look for another school. I don't mix behavior and academics, so weather a kid is defiant or excellent, will have no bearing on the grade he/she receives.
    I would absolutely not pass a student who has not done the appropriate amount / level of work. My students have to work for even a D-, and I would never compromise on that, mostly because in the real world nothing will be handed to these students. They need to learn now that the quality / amount of work will almost always equal to the outcome.
     
  8. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I am actively looking for another teaching job. I would really like to be in a school with a more reasonable attitude toward academic goals, grading expectations, and discipline.
     
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  9. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    I would never compromise on because it's my integrity at stake too. I can't give out a grade that is underserved. Firstly, it's unfair to those to worked their behinds off to get an A. Secondly, you are not teaching students anything about work ethic if you just hand good grades out like lollies. Thirdly, it should be pointed out that you aren't doing the kid any favours by sending them to high school or the real world unprepared. No one gives out something for nothing in the real world. I always tell my students, in middle school, no particular grade on an assessment A or E will ever matter in your life. No employer or parent in law or partner is going to ask what grade you got in middle school. But I'm a stickler for good quality work because it's the attitude that matters. And I'm trying to get them in a habit of working hard, taking pride in their work, knowing the satisfaction that they worked hard for something and got the reward etc., because this is the attitude that's going to make them successful. This attitude isn't going to drop on their lap when they are 25, it starts now.
     
  10. 4SquareRubric

    4SquareRubric Rookie

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    Mar 21, 2017

    Compromising for your headmaster sounds like a bad deal for your students. It sounds like you not only put a lot of effort into assessment, but they get rubric based feedback as well. This is what's best for students. I wouldn't stop doing that.

    With that said I think credit recovery is a good idea. If a student fails a course or comes really close to failing that spending time in the next semester relearning the skills and standards they missed the first time is not a bad thing. This is the way it should be. I would however this discuss the possibility of the credit recovery appearing as a separate grade. There must be a way to code it on a transcript.

    This could lead, potentially, to a college admissions essay on the topic of overcoming obstacles. The student does poorly the first time, doesn't give up, and goes back to fix the mistakes. That's a valuable lesson.
     
  11. MathGuy82

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    I agree with you, Jerry Dill. When I first became a teacher 10 years ago it was my absolute DREAM to be able to give out strict grades that were FAIR. However, we live in a world that has parents that don't like bad grades, all different types of schooling (online) that competes with us where you can look up your answers on google or take a picture of them when no one is looking and download a math solver on your phone. College has even lost some of it's integrity too. Administrators that get looked up upon negatively if there overall school has low grades, extra parent meetings either before or after school that can blame you if the kid is failing or say "you need to make you expectations clearer". We already have enough to do before and after school with everything required or expected. Tutoring, staff meetings, parent/dean discussions about misbehaviors or insane unauthorized cell phone use. I don't give easy A's but I really unfortunately have to watch who I give F's. It's a sad state, at least where I have taught. In all of my schools, the principal or dean will say, "If too many people are failing something needs to be done " They never say it directly to teachers but I can tell it means we need to change something. It's also pretty much impossible to have a C average throughout of all your classes even though that would be nice.
    I would also say keep doing what you are doing if the administration isn't giving you problems. Sometimes is good to have a mix of easier grading and harder grading teachers to keep things in balance.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
  12. sophomorehope16

    sophomorehope16 Rookie

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    I started this school year late in February and took over students from classes that were crowded and mostly repeaters. Some student openly dislike my grading and always mention their previous teacher, who happens to be, easily giving out A's like candies. I noticed this because when the students were moved into my classes, they can barely do simple arithmetic operations on signed numbers and basic algebra understandings like exponents, constants, and variables. Plus their grades are all 100s in 5-item classworks. I was like, seriously? She only did 5-item classwork on a 90-minue block? Yet, last time we have an early release teacher meeting, her students gave her accolades that were video taped and shown to the meeting with the faculty and received a gift bag for that from admin. Inside me, I would like to seriously confront her of doing the students a huge disservice for handing grades without any effort just so students will like her, admin will recognize her, and she'll be teacher of the year. So much for the bs! I even heard my students talking about this teacher being upset about me being a new teacher and taking some students off of her class, when in fact it was admin and I was hired to lessen the loads for classes that are overly populated. She never introduced herself to me and doesn't talk to me at all even on PLCs.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nearly every study done into student evaluations at the college level shows that students rate professors more highly if their classes are easier and if they got a good grade in it, rather than if the professor helped them to learn more or think more.

    http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2010/06/17/teaching-learning-grades-and-s/

    Just thought that was interesting to keep in my backpocket since I also get a lot of students complaining about me because they have imperfect grades in my class because for some reason they've been trained to think they can coast through all of the classes and get As or just get passed along for doing minimal work. (though the second part is true due to our weak administration caring more about graduation rates than actual learning)
     
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  14. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I'm not surprised by the results of these studies. Students that I have met very rarely care about learning for the sake of learning. They are learning to make money at jobs or because they want good grades or because they cannot think of alternatives.

    I'm trying to come up with ways where we can have a win-win resolution. For example, I am now requiring one class to revise their recently submitted papers and based on the revisions I will regrade their papers. As long as they learn something from my comments and submit a better paper, I am quite happy giving them the higher grades that they want. Win-win seems to be one way to work with students who are not highly motivated overall and who usually submit average to below-average work. I just have to involve more revisions in my assignments.
     
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  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think one fair way to grade is like this:
    - grade strictly and without compromising own values. Meaning an A should be an A, a D should be a D.
    - provide chances to retake tests (the final grade depends on you, if you combine, or take the higher score)
    - provide chances to make up work ( it depends on you if you take off points or give full credit)
    - give extra credit, but it should be higher thinking skills

    This way no one, who tried, should be failing your classes. Even if it's chemistry or geometry, and they're really struggling, it doesn't matter, because if they really try, they should earn at least a passing grade.
     
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  16. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    If all of my students really truly tried, then I would be in a different position. I have some students who are content to work up until a C grade, then they stop working. Or a couple students pass in no work at all. If all of the students were putting in regular, consistent efforts, then I am sure they would be making progress, so I would give them points for submitting the assignments and reward the progress I saw too. This is not what is happening, however.
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Somewhat related, I collected their packets today, and they were all complaining that I didn't grade every paper in their packet and why did they even waste time doing it if I didn't grade it? I told them, because it helps them learn and they all groaned. LOL.

    I don't grade every page but I do randomly choose which pages to grade so there's no way for them to know if they can blow off an assignment or not.
     
  18. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    For me, I can't grade more softly, nor can I offer redemption/extra credit etc. I do everything in my power to prepare students, to teach them to prepare themselves and to encourage them to learn from mistakes. I offer extra help to all, and I personalize my feedback to fit each student's strengths/weaknesses. Beyond that, I grade things as they are. It is tough, especially as parents and others want the feel good grades of the season. However, I stand by my standards and am always bolstered by the superior test results my students exhibit on achievement tests and other assessments. Results are not the purpose of education. I tell kids to be learning driven, not grades driven. The goal is to learn. Period. That said, I celebrate the student who earns a C after a long run of D's and F's because they have made strides in an area that is meaningful to them. We celebrate together. We talk about what helped them make the gain, and we formulate the game plan for the next victory. You need to do what you know to be right for your students and for yourself. (If you do find another position and your review is that you are a tough grader, some school might find that to be a great thing.)
     
  19. MathGuy82

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    Apr 18, 2017

    These are good posts!! Now days everybody has to pass to at least algebra II and other advanced classes, while in the 1960's I've heard from many people and sources, that high school was more vocational based to a certain point. Not everybody had to make it to algebra II or three or 4 years of English. Since there are so many requirements, including in most colleges, it's harder to be catering towards everyone. If high school students had a few more choices what to take, I think we as teachers could be more strict. If a high school had a class for English majors or future writers, a teacher in 3rd or 4th level of English at a high school could be much more strict on grading these students. However, it seems as though with a myriad of everything teachers have to do these days, and how busy are principals are, parent complaints seem to fall back on "did the teacher set the expectations adequately" if teachers grade too hard or at least half the class is failing. Unless the administration is giving you trouble, I would do what you are doing, Jerry Dill. Remember that "no news" is sometimes the best news. Just because your neighbor is grading easy doesn't mean you have to. I had a neighbor math teacher that let students take tests home when it was against policy. I never mentioned this to the teacher or never treated this teacher unkindly or went behind the teacher's back and told the principal. I thought that my classroom is my ship and his classroom is his ship. In college, in real life, certain bosses/teachers will allow "so and so" while the next boss/professor will not allow what the other does.
     
  20. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    I looked at the transcripts of a student who has been in the United States for 3 months now, and this student cannot form a sentence, nor remember any vocabulary, nor speak a complete sentence aloud. When the assignments are 3 paragraphs long, he writes 2 sentences.

    So the Easy A Teacher gave this student an "A" grade in her Debate course. This student has no idea how to talk in English aloud or form complete sentences. And he has not shown any opinions in my classes so far. Yet the Easy A Teacher is giving him an A grade. This is the ridiculousness I am talking about.
     
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  21. MathGuy82

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    This is unfortunately how a good bunch of our school are now today. Some principals/parents that won't tolerate anything less than a C despite students doing nothing. It's happened to me several times, a principal strongly recommended that I give a D rather than a deserved F for a student because his home life was so chaotic. The principal wasn't mean but wanted me to budge a little and I did it. Sometimes some of our students have so much going on that they can't even think, not just normal teenage stressors, but problems that are way abnormal that go on at home. This student only completed "part of one assignment" that ENTIRE semester, nothing else. Colleges are in competition to get enrollment, so many colleges and even high schools are online and try to advertise how everybody can have a good life while going to school while working without getting overwhelmed. So now we have to cater it seems. No more are the days were there is a public school, private school, and alternative school. Now we have online schools, college high schools, home school options, night high school, part online, easy alternative where there is no attendance required as long as the student completes everything in the semester.
    It also seems less and less to where some students want to have to try hard to achieve a grade. They understand they have to do work but no longer is there the critical thinking days as it appears.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
  22. MathGuy82

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    Apr 18, 2017

    Here is another piece that shows that more and more there is less and less that is wanted from our parents and students. Now with all the options these days, it seems like we have to cater more. Students are most likely always to put in a good evaluation when they achieve their desired grade or within a grade of it, unless the student knew that he/she was at fault. Which happens at times, but not nearly as often as it should.
     

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