Grades?

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by MrsPatten, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2008

    I'm just curious how many of you out there in 1st grade land have to give grades? If so, how do you do this? If not, what do you do instead?

    Our district requires us to give grades in Reading, Language (Grammar & Spelling), Math, Science and Social Studies. I *hate* it!! And my "team members" insist on having spelling test, grammar test, reading test, vocabulary test, 2 math tests (Saxon) and a Science or Social Studies test (alternates every 3 weeks)

    At the first of this year I tried to suggest that we simplify and don't give tests in Sci. and Soc. St. Instead, I wanted to do class projects and assignments and give a grade for participation---that way every kid who at least tried would have 100 for those two subjects. However I was over-ruled. They said that parents like to study with their kids. Which, if you'd seen my spelling tests from last week, you'd know that's not true at all.

    And on top of that, they have tests for reading that are totally off the wall. For example, they'll have a 10 question matching test for definitions of words that were in our story but won't have anything for comprehension.

    This is just my 2nd year in first grade. Last year I just went along with what everyone else did but now it seems a little ridiculous to me. It seems like these babies (and their parents) come from K where they have no tests to 1st where they have a 2 page study guide and 7 tests a week. What do you think?
     
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  3. Carebear05

    Carebear05 Comrade

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    Jan 29, 2008

    All we do is give checks, check minuses and x's. And I really hate that. Id rather give grades because I feel like half of the work that my kids do never really matters because they more or less just get a check if they do it. I think it's harder to use our system.
     
  4. SaraFirst

    SaraFirst Cohort

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    Jan 30, 2008

    All those tests sound excessive to me. We give percentages for reading (phonics, comp., vocab.), spelling and math. We give checks and x's for subcategories and for science/s.s. Our reading series comes with weekly tests for sight word vocab. and comprehension. Could you possibly make up your own tests or assignments or do you all have to do it the same way? I would hate giving tests in s/s.s. I think that studying for spelling, practicing math skills and reading nightly is plenty for first graders. I can't imagine making them study s/s.s. also. Good luck!
     
  5. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Jan 30, 2008

    Wow, that is too bad that you have to give all those. Your teachers would die at my school! We give pretty much no tests at all. We don't believe spelling tests are developmentally appropriate, and don't give a clear picture of a student's ability. (We use their writing to judge if they are learning our word wall words correctly and transferring the skill). For reading, we use IRI's and state on the report card if the student is reading above, at, or below grade level. We do no vocab. or grammar tests. That is just ridiculous. Why would anyone need all those tests to be able to tell how a student is doing? Don't you just know from their daily work???!!

    Oh, for our grades, we use a standards-based report card. We give an M for meets the standard, a P for progressing towards the standard, and a C for an area of Concern.
     
  6. iTeacher

    iTeacher Rookie

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    Jan 30, 2008

    Can you start off next year doing what you want? I don't see why you couldn't unless your principal wants every teacher in each grade level doing the same thing.
     
  7. teach1st

    teach1st Comrade

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    Jan 30, 2008

    I give percentage grades for reading, phonics, spelling, grammar, and math. Our Communication Arts basal supplies us with two reading tests. One test upon words from the story, sight words, and two sentences they must read to us. The other test has questions the students must read and answer about the story. This tests their comprehension. The second test doesn't start until mid year. In grammar the grammar topic goes along with the story, such as nouns, verbs, describing words. The students have a five question assessment on the objective for that story. Then I have a rubric for their journal each week. In math I give a test when we complete a concept. This helps me test their mastery of the concept. But these tests are not weekly. It could be every two weeks or longer depending on their ability to understand the concept taught. We use Saxon Phonics for spelling and phonics. Every five lessons they have a phonics and spelling test. I base all my grades on these tests. The grades show how well they mastered the skills for the quarter. Science and Social Studies is strictly participation. It seems to work well for us.
     
  8. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    Jan 30, 2008

    Well, there are four of us and two of us are, well how do I put this, not open for change. They freak out over every little thing. But the other 1st grade teacher is a little too laid back for me. She doesn't really even want to follow the curriculum we have in reading and math.

    I've been altering my tests and forgoing some of them (like Sci. & Soc. St.) but I guess next year I'm gonna have to say "forget this" and come up with a better way.

    I just don't understand these women though. One of them will make up every test that every child misses too. (I'm bad--I don't do make-ups.) And they act like every parent is obsessed with grades but most of mine don't care--I mean, what college is gonna look back and say "Oh well, you made a 79 in spelling in 1st grade---we won't take you." I guess they assume that everyone is as OCD as them.
     
  9. mykidsrgr8

    mykidsrgr8 Rookie

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    Feb 1, 2008

    We give a com. arts grade (reading, phonics, english), spelling and math. We do not give grades in science or soc. studies.

    I noticed you are using Saxon math. We are looking at different math series for next year and one that we are looking at is Saxon. What do you think about it?
     
  10. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Feb 2, 2008

    We have to give grades in all areas in my district. It's percentage based, with S (Satisfactory) meaning 80% and higher, I (Improving) meaning 60% to 79%, and N (Needs Improvement) meaning 59% and below.
    We give tests/quizzes in math and spelling. For everything else, we each have our own ways of determining grades. For instance, for decoding skills, I have my students each blend 4 new words for me every day, and I record how they did. I then plug the information into gradekeeper software, and it will analyze the percentages, and then the letter grade.
    For fluency, I do miscue analyses with our decodable books.
     
  11. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Feb 2, 2008

    I know of someone in my district that is in trouble with the higher ups for this. She had an extremely difficult child who had to be removed from the classroom often. She never had him make up any of the tests he missed. Now, they've switched him into another classroom- but the parents hold her responsible for his difficulties, and have made it their personal mission to have her fired. Now, the grades she gave him for the first marking period are being called into question. She doesn't have the "evidence" to back her grades up, because she never retested him. I imagine that the superintendent is not too happy about this.

    Even though grades in 1st grade will not determine whether or not students get into college, they are still important. These are grades, going into files, documenting the child's success in school. While I teach in a middle class district, I have talked to people who teach in wealthier areas, where the parents go INSANE if their child gets anything lower than an A. Some parents can't accept that their child isn't perfect, and they want to put the blame on everyone else. Teachers who must give grades must be prepared to back those grades up with "evidence"-- whether it be tests, classwork, anecdotal notes, running records, etc.

    I have not had any major problems regarding grades. But I've heard enough stories from other teachers to want to document EVERYTHING just to cover myself.
     
  12. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Feb 2, 2008

    Sounds nuts to me.

    I just don't see the value in tests tests tests and grades in first grade. The range of "first grade level" is very wide. Kids are still achieving developmentally. So what, you are rewarding a child who is developing these skills earlier, while labeling a child who hasn't developed that skill yet because he isn't ready yet?

    Sounds like a set up for failure. You know, every year I have kids come into first grade reading at a high level. Some are just beginning. Some struggle to get the phonics and sight words applied in their actual reading, but they LOVE books and actually sneak the books to read when we are supposed to be doing something else, while big shot reader sits at the desk looking bored with life (some of them anyway). What I have seen happen consistently is that the beginning and struggling readers are right there with those who were high readers by the time they get to 3rd or 4th grade. So what do the tests really tell us?

    In first grade, can't they just be kids and learn to love learning? Or learn without knowing they are even learning? Or be evaluated without knowing it is even a test?

    I hate tests for first graders - can you tell?
     
  13. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Feb 2, 2008

    MMRbella - I was not referring to you when I said it sounds nuts to me!!!!

    I was referring to the original post. :haha:
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Feb 2, 2008

    We don't give grades. The report card is based on progress which is based on assessment tests. We give weekly spelling tests but don't record the actual grades.
     
  15. maroki

    maroki Comrade

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    Feb 3, 2008

    We give O, S, N, grades on report cards. This is the last year for our current report card, and I've heard rumors that we will be moving to more of a "spectrum" type grading/assessment system on our future report card.

    I don't give a lot of tests in first grade, and we don't have many built into our curriculums. I collect student work and keep any of their work that I put into the "gradebook", but a large portion of our report card (at least K-3) is social/emotional/behavioral, so that comes from teacher observation and such.
     
  16. corps2005

    corps2005 Cohort

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    Feb 3, 2008

    Last year I taught first grade. I gave a lot of tests in Language Arts, Reading, and Math. For Science and Social Studies, I did not give tests. Instead, I gave participation grades and project/experiment grades. I teach second grade this year, and I still follow the same idea.
     
  17. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    Feb 3, 2008

    I'll have one kid who was out one day when we gave a test on once a six weeks. I'm not saying that if a child was missing all their tests I wouldn't give them a make-up but if a kid misses one test out of the multitude that we give I don't do make ups. I really have only one kid who misses many days and her mom will usually send her on test days anyway. (Because she's not really sick--just a baby who if her little toe hurts, mom will keep her home.) Historically when I've given make-up tests the kids who took them made bad grades on them anyway. And these ridiculous tests that we give don't measure what they're really expected to learn class and how they're progressing anyway. (Which goes back to my *original* problem--maybe if I felt our tests were more appropriate, I would feel like giving make-ups.)
     
  18. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Feb 6, 2008

    I see what your saying. I hate giving grades based on tests as well... it's unfortunate that we work in districts where it's part of what we have to do.
     

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