New Teacher - First Math Test Given - Not So Great Results

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by investorperson, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. investorperson

    investorperson Rookie

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    Sep 28, 2007

    Hello All,

    Need some advice -

    Students took the first high school math Geometry exam, and the results weren't as great as I had hoped. However, since I'm a first year teacher, I'm not sure if these results were typical. I teach in a low-income, but pretty high achieving school that has an API in the 780 range.

    Out of my three classes totalling 92 students, their grades were:

    A's - 12
    B's - 27
    C's - 18
    D's - 12
    F's - 25

    I'm trying to gauge whether these results are typical, or if they seem on the way low side. This seems like too many Fs.
    The test was straight from the McDougal Littel Geometry textbook, CA edition. Test B, Chapter 1.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    That's got to be hard to take, investor. Though it's not uncommon for a first test to be a little problematic, especially if there's any room for judgment in the grading: it can take a little while for everyone (including you, truth be told) to understand just what your expectations are. If any of the questions are free response, you might consider making up a rubric - not only will it make expectations clearer for your students, it'll make them clearer (because more explicit) to you.

    Aside from the matter of first test as shakedown cruise, I'd look at several things:

    - Is there a problem with the test? - badly phrased questions, maybe?
    - Is there a problem with the fit between the test and the text?
    - Is there a problem with the fit between the test and what you taught?
    - Do the F's belong to people who showed evidence in class of not grasping the material?

    One of the math people - Alice, or Malcolm, or innovationguy, or a couple of other good people whose usernames escape me at the moment - will probably have other and better ideas for you.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 29, 2007

    I'm not familiar with your text, but I'll take a shot in the dark here.

    The first chapter is probably heavy on definitions and memorization, right? Lots and lots of theorems, not much use of them yet?

    Kids inevitably do poorly on tests such as that. (My 9th graders didn't shine on their first Algebra test either; lots of the same type of info.)

    For starters, you say the test was straight from the book. Does that mean a pre-made test or your own? I've never used someone else's test... somehow the wording and emphasis never seems to match my own. Take a look at each question-- is that the way YOU said it in class? Or is the wording just a little different? It makes a difference. You said the kids are low-income. Do any of them speak another language at home? If so, mixing up the wording is even more of a problem for them.

    If at all possible, start throwing in some topics that involve actual problems (Complements and supplements, vertical angle type of stuff, where they can use their algebra skills.) Teach it soon and quiz it soon. You'll see that they DO have skills. More importantly, so will they.

    You're probably into, or at least starting, proofs. A warning to you and to them: starting geometric proofs is like learning to ride a bike. Some kids get on and shine right away. Others get it a bit more slowly, including some kids who have always done exceptionally well in math before. Assure yourself and them: you are a GREAT teacher, but this topic requires a different type of thinking. They all WILL get it eventually, but just not all at once.
     
  5. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Well, it's tough to say. I don't think your spread was terrible -- you have over 40% who received B or better, over 60% who received C or better. You did have a lot of F's. If those were grades for the quarter, I'd personally be happy with the number of A's but try to get more B's and C's and fewer D's and F's.

    Could it be that they need to get used to the type of test you give? Could it be some of them didn't study? Will their grades be balanced out by homework and quiz grades? In that case, I wouldn't curve it.

    But if you feel that they didn't understand the material and now aren't ready to move on to the next stuff, I'd evaluate how you can reteach and how you might teach it differently next year, and I'd evaluate how you might change the test.
     
  6. investorperson

    investorperson Rookie

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Thanks for your replies so far.
    I realize in retrospect that the test may have been unfair. I'm a first year teacher and just struggling to stay afloat (while getting my master's at the same time)! So I didn't have time to make up my own test.
    I do have other things, like HW, quizzes, participation, etc... to balance the grades out. Not that many will get F's on their first progress report.
    Still, I may give a retest and this time write my own test that hopefully will be more fair.
    Teaching is a challenge!
     
  7. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Have you gone through the test to see if most students missed the same problems? It could be the wording in those problems and instead of giving the test over again. Just give a test on the part they didn't do so well on rewording it to fit your style.
     
  8. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Sep 29, 2007

    My experience teaching geometry so far is with 8th graders. They were the honors kids and I only had one F out of about 60 kids. High school would be different. If these are typical high school kids, I could imagine 25% failing geometry, sometimes even if they did well in Algebra 1. Geometry is concerned with proofs, something many students don't have much experience with, or patience for in this world of instant gratification.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I think a lot depends on the student population in your classes. I am surprised so often when teaching middle schoolers at how many don't seem to know when they don't 'get it'. Also, at how willing some are to live with not 'getting it'. I never could have stood that when I was a student.

    Alice makes a good point when she suggests quizzing frequently during a unit.

    Do you review the previous material for a few minutes each class? Do you tell them in advance what you will be teaching that day and how it fits into the bigger picture?
     
  10. ddb23

    ddb23 Companion

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    Have the kids analyze their own tests and see why they missed the problems - are the mistakes huge or are they careless mistakes? I would pay close attention to the ones who got F's, sit with them and see what happened.

    How often do you test, how much time to prepare did they have? Also, how does that compare with what they did last year? If 39 out of 92 got A/B, that is not too bad.
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    NooOOOOooo! Ya don't say!

    (I mean this to be laughing WITH you, investorperson, not AT you.)

    By the way, one could perhaps ADAPT existing tests, or questions in them...
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Oh, absolutely!!

    In fact, I steal... er, I mean borrow... lots of questions from NY State Regents exams. They used to (and will again soon) give them in "10th grade math"... aka geometry. If you look at the Math A/Math B questions, you have to be a bit more choosy.

    You can find them online; they're a wonderful source of problems!!!
     
  13. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I would pobably retest. To be honest textbook made assesments are not very good, wording is critical in math and could confuse the kids. You rreason for not making a test "I didn't have the time" is a really bad excuse." Sorry I had to be blunt there. Would you expect your kids to say "I didn't have time to do this project." I hope not, so you should be expecting the same from yourself. I am not trying to be mean, but just point this out. You MUST make sure that the majority of the class go the material, Geometry builds on itself more than any class and it is vital they get the basics taught in the beginning.
     
  14. investorperson

    investorperson Rookie

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    Sep 30, 2007

    Brendan,

    Funny, as I was thinking about my post today I was thinking the same thing you are pointing out even before I read your reply - I really shouldn't make excuses. I really want the students to do their best and give it their all, so I should expect the same of me.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts and suggestions!
     
  15. ddb23

    ddb23 Companion

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    To piggy back on Alice - I also "steal" questions from the end of the year tests and the california high school exit exam. As long as they match the curriculum that we have been doing, they make good questions. Also, the kids love to see that they are getting questions from a high school test (in 7th grade).

    Most textbook publishers have some sort of test generator linked to your state standards - call them and they should be happy to send you a copy (especially when you are in or near a textbook adoption year).

    db
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    THANK YOU TG!!!!!!!!!
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    (grinning and delighted)

    Was that a good find, then? You're welcome, Alice!
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oh yeah!!!!

    I'll browse through it when I get the chance. But know that it's saved and WILL be used :)
     
  20. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    You have already learned one of the most important lessons in teaching! Congrats! Now if we could only teach 80% of the math department at my school this same lessons.
     

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