Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by GTB4GT, Apr 22, 2015.

1. ### GTB4GTCohort

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Apr 22, 2015

I have a ? for you math teachers out there. I am nearing the end of my 4th year teaching secondary math. I have a hypothesis about students and their grades and would like to hear from you on this issue.

My hypothesis is: you could take the first two test grades of each school year and average them. This average could be used to predict the final grade with a very high (untested) degree of accuracy without any further grades being collected.

A corollary to the above: the "pecking order" or "class ranking" from the average could be used to predict end of year rankings with a fairly high confidence level. The students may 'adjust" slightly but there is no upheaval if you will.

In other words, my experience is showing me that there is very little "leapfrogging" throughout the year. the students seem to maintain the same relative position to each other when they leave my classroom as they did early in the school year.

Any thoughts or opinions on this? Is your experiences different than mine? TA for any feedback.

3. ### The Natural LogRookie

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Apr 22, 2015

Interesting topic. I've noticed this quite frequently in teaching algebra 2 and pre-calculus.

It does not seem to be quite as true in geometry, though sometimes it is. I think that's because in the beginning of the year we are more focused on proofs and towards the end we move towards trig/more computational stuff so sometimes there is a little more of a shift.

Overall though, I would imagine this to be true in subjects other than math as well.

4. ### 2ndTimeAroundPhenom

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Apr 22, 2015

It is that way, to some degree in science too. Students very rarely move out of that first letter grade range they are in. I may have three honors students each semester that move up, but that's it.

5. ### CindyBlueCohort

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Apr 23, 2015

Overall, I'd agree with your statement. Students rarely change their overall grade. Whether the material is difficult or easy, it seems to hold true. Math is an "effort subject" - what you put into it, you will get out of it - and the people who have the personal discipline and opportunity to put in the study time and practice time invariably will do well.
One exception is if a group of students had a "bad" math teacher the previous year (I've thought for five minutes on how to politically correctly say "bad math teacher" but can't come up with a thing!) Because of their lack of prerequisite skills they sometimes do poorly the first few weeks, but if they are good students, they will work hard and catch up, and then their grades rise to their level of effort.
Another couple of exceptions I've seen that can affect a student's usual grade pattern: One, a changed family situation at home - if the situation improves, grades can rise dramatically, and if it deteriorates, then grades can drop just as drastically. And two, if the student gets into drugs - that can really bring a good student's grades down.

6. ### msgabRookie

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Apr 23, 2015

we really need to be exploring proficiency based, competency based and standards based grading or the trend you describe will continue. Students need to be more than mediocre in the 21st century as they are competing globally. Check out Myron Dueck's Grading Smarter, Not Harder and On Your Mark by Thomas Guskey. They will get you thinking.

7. ### GTB4GTCohort

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Apr 24, 2015

please elaborate before I look at your suggested resources...I am struggling to understand how a grading system could be anything but "proficiency based. competency based and standards based". Especially in a math classroom. Thx.

8. ### msgabRookie

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Apr 24, 2015

Grades are frequently a hodge podge of participation and scores on tests, hw and well, anything a teacher wants to grade. This does not necessarily represent achievement in a particular skill area then. HW can frequently be impacted by environment; either no support at home or too much support. Averaging is another issue etc. Grades are generally not based on proficiency in most classrooms. There are some of course doing this regularly and Maine and VT now have laws that will require it. I would say this is not the norm. The resources I suggested give many more specific examples.

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Apr 28, 2015

I agree, and I teach English. Students that start with a C usually end with a C. My students that straddle the line between A and B can usually get themselves to an A with some extra effort at the end of the school year.

10. ### GTB4GTCohort

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Apr 28, 2015

I just looked at this thread again. I would like to thank any or all of my colleagues who teach English who happened to glance at this thread for not taking me to task for this egregious error in the above quote. If only the Almighty Being, in His/Her infinite wisdom, or the sheer chaos that is the universe unfolding completely by chance (depending on where you sit on this issue), had created English and grammar skills with the same degree of logic and simplicity as was built into mathematics. Then such errors as the one quoted above simply would not happen. After all, who doesn't understand the beautiful elegance that is math but remains baffled by the seemingly random grammar rules that were created apparently out of thin air? Or was it just me back in the day sleeping through my English classes because I wasn't being engaged or met where I was at the time as a student? Or perhaps I am just lazy and didn't apply myself???

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