Has anyone ever been told they are giving too many high grades? My P didn't straight tell me this, but she alluded to it in a recent discussion. My class average overall is around 87-88% (B+). This is a CP math class. From the other 3 CP teachers, two of them have averages around 80-81% and the other one has averages similar to mine. I understand her concern about high grades as she doesn't want a bunch of kids trying to get into honors math next year who don't belong there (you need a 93% to get into honors, but many kids who get 90-92 appeal it and get in), but I don't like to try to trick kids on my assessments. My belief is the test should be very similar to what was done in class. No surprises. I want students who do what they are supposed to do to find success relatively easily. The two teachers with lower averages put stuff on the test that they didn't directly teach (i.e. application problems). They'll even admit that they put application problems on test that they really haven't taught as they want the kids to figure out how to apply the knowledge. I can appreciate this on homework assignments etc, but I don't think tests are an appropriate place for that. I've had a couple of their students who I taught last year come to me for extra help, and mention they didn't think it was fair they were being tested on stuff not really taught. Has anyone ever been told they were giving too many high grades? What did you do? I might put 1 or 2 tough problems on the next test to try to get averages down to around 85, but I hate having to do that. This is not an honors class so I am happy if they have a good grasp of the nuts and bolts to prepare them for CP math next year.

Wow, I never imagined this being an issue. I assumed if your class averages were likes 40-50% then your P addressing that. However, the other way around, I am confused? Everyone wants their school to succeed and teachers want to achieve high class averages, right?

We are told that all of our tests should have a few questions that are application questions to see which students have moved beyond what was taught. Our students who miss the application questions may still receive an A on the assessment but this would be the data needed to show that they do not belong in a more advanced class. I can definitely see the worry that you principal may have. Many students are receiving A's and B's in high school level classes and then testing into remedial level classes in college. Also, many students do well one year and then are moved to a more advanced class and struggle terribly.

I have never been told this, but I have heard it directed to other teachers from a principal before. That principal was very data driven and thought that it didn't look right if the kid couldn't pass a state test at the end of the year but had an A in class all year long. (That was her excuse at least) For what it's worth I agree with your philosophy. I do have to ask, should you be teaching the application questions? I know that teaching math most of the standards I cover I might start with non application questions but usually end up teaching application questions.

I haven't heard this, but I know a couple teachers in my department have been talked to about it in the past. At the end of each year, our SOL exam scores are compared to our class pass rates. It's expected that you'll have a similar number of SOL fails and classroom fails. If a teacher has a 100% pass rate in class, but only a 50% pass rate on the SOL, then the assumption is that the class isn't rigorous enough.Also the number of "Pass Advanced" students should somewhat correlate to the number of As. So that sort of situation would be looked at, which makes sense to me.

I think part of the issue is that the beginning of many math courses is mostly review. And that kids who understood the material the first time around don't have to stretch too much to remember it. You're teaching Algebra II & Trig, right? So kids who remembered how to factor were probably in pretty good shape for the chapter on Rational Expressions-- that's the first one our Algebra II & Trig teachers cover. You can probably expect your grades to drop a bit when you hit logs and trig. In particular, the kids who are absent for the start of trig are in for a long haul as they try to catch up-- that stuff just builds and builds and builds. Also, if you want to challenge your kids a bit, you can incorporate some SAT prep questions as a Do Now and do something similar on tests. They can be less predictable, so even some studious kids can struggle a little with some of the problems. (Heck, lots of teachers struggle with SAT math questions.) But I get what you're saying. I don't do surprises. My kids know exactly what will be on today's test. (Otherwise, the only ones taken by surprise are the kids who have me 1st period... by my next Algebra I class 5th period, everyone would know what was on the test .(Even though the versions are different, the format is the same.)

If you can prove that the rigor of your test is where it needs to be, then I wouldn't worry. If you think you could bump it it, then consider adding review question, tougher constructed response, etc.

Um...that's a completely valid reason and not an "excuse." If they can't pass the state test at the end of the year in the subject, they didn't master the content. There's a serious problem with grade inflation in most high schools in America, and that's one of the main reasons we have "social promotion" of students who haven't mastered skills, aren't ready for the next level, and have parents who throw a fit when the next year the student is actually in a rigorous course and not doing well do to a lack of mastery.

I totally agree with the principal. Unless there is some major, documented (by that time, at least), test anxiety, there should never be an A student failing a final exam. In my advanced classes I shoot for having 7% of my test questions being difficult questions. Analytical and requiring several pieces of previously taught material. If you are an A student then you'll be able to get those correct.

Yeah, as a parent I would have some real problems with a child who had been getting A's or B's failing a final exam or a state exam.

I should add in here that I agreed with my former principal on this one. I guess I sounded like I didn't because within 2 years there were school wide policies making it all but impossible to get high grades. That is what I had problems with and I guess in my opinion that put a question mark on any of her grading decisions for me. I do agree with that one though.

I agree that the kids should know what to expect on the test. I also think that the rigor of your tests should match the other teachers'. I would teach the students in class how to do the application problems and include them on the test. Problem solved.

As of now we have no end of course test. We don't have finals either---just marking period exams. We are supposed to be getting an end of course test starting next year, but we don't know exactly how it will be yet.

Yes. We start with quadratic and polynomial functions (i.e. finding all zeros, synthetic division, graphing, all that good stuff). Next month we get into logs and exponentials and rational functions. We don't do any trig until the very last month of school. Most of the trig gets taught in pre-calc---we just do basic LOS and LOC and intro to unit circle. I'm going to try to put more applications in class, but it's often hard to fit in.

A GREAT example of end of the year tests for most high school subjects is NY State's Regents exams. Here's a wondeful prep site: http://www.regentsprep.org/