Students emailing me trying to get better grades. How do you handle this?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by applesnap, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

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    Mar 18, 2018

    Hi everyone. I am teaching a grade 12 chemistry course this year. It's a highly academic course and most of the students in it are quite concerned about their grades. The students are in the process of applying for post-secondary right now and it's competitive.

    Also, the students will write a standardized exam at the end of the year. If their marks on the standardized exam aren't within 5% of my class mark, I'll be in trouble. So I have to be pretty careful with the marks I award, and not inflating their grades is actually really difficult. (Things like labs and assignments bring their marks up a lot).

    We have a unit exam tomorrow and I got two emails from students:

    - One student asked if she can write the unit exam a couple days late because she needs more time to prepare. She says she has a wedding to attend this weekend, plus she has has homework and tests in her other classes.

    - Another student emailed me concerned about a quiz mark. He says his quiz mark is lower than normal for him, and wanted to know if I'd drop the quiz mark if he did well on tomorrow's unit exam.

    I am kind of torn about how to reply to these. The strict side of me wants to say too bad, life happens, and that sometimes means not preparing for a unit exam as well as you'd hoped. That's just the way it goes. For the other one, I want to say that the entire reason I given multiple quizzes AND tests is so that one quiz doesn't completely tank your mark. You had one low mark, we're only halfway through the semester, you still have time to improve it by working hard until June.

    The other side of me thinks I should be nicer and that perhaps the students' concerns are valid. What do you think? How do you typically handle these types of requests?
     
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  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I tend to be flexible with students if they tell me a day or two before, and want to take it on a different date, as long as they aren't frequent offenders. I get more annoyed at all of the students who just have their parents take them to school late or sign them out early to miss the test. As such, I prefer when they are upfront, and I am willing to work with them, again, as long as it's a rare occurrence for this student to miss assessments.

    As far as the quiz, I would just re-iterate to the student that if he does well on the test, that should more than make up for a low quiz score, and leave it at that.
     
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  4. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I would say no to both, provided she knew about the test before Friday. I have kids email me a lot asking for extra credit, and I always say no to them as well. I do drop the lowest quiz each quarter though. We usually take two quizzes a week, so I understand a student may have a bad day.
     
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  5. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I would say no to both. Time management is a life skill that has to be learned. I understand student 1 has other homework and family events, but you can’t schedule around everything. Additionally, if you allow her flexibility in when she takes the test, you’ll have to do the same for al students who ask. I would remind student 2 that a good exam grade will make the quiz have a lower impact on the overall grade.
     
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  6. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I would say no to both as well. If the first student told you about the family event earlier, I might have considered it but the night before is too late.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I would most likely give the first student the exemption, but not the second. I agree that students need to learn to handle when life gets too busy, but advocating is also a good skill to have. I come from a district that tends to overwhelm students with lots of work where every now and then the convergence of work is too much unless you can remove all social obligations from your calendar. This happens to higher performing students more often than the general classes which tend to give almost nothing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
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  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Mar 18, 2018

    I'd say no to the first student on the grounds that she waited too long to ask, but I would be open to perhaps a retake afterwards if she does not perform to her usual standards. I wouldn't suggest the retake though--she'd have to ask for it. And I'd only allow it after she provided evidence of further study.

    For the second kid, I wouldn't be open to negotiating assessment scores like that. If he does well on tomorrow's exam, the score should presumably impact his overall grade positively enough to undo the damage of a low quiz grade that's probably worth a lot less than the exam. Incidentally, how many quizzes do you normally give in a marking period? Are there enough that you would consider dropping the lowest one? It might not be a bad policy to have in the future, across the board and for all students.
     
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  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Mar 18, 2018

    Wedding student doesn't claim to be involved in the wedding party, and weddings aren't something you just find out about the day before, so unless I had good reason to think venue had changed, making travel much more involved, I would go with a "no", since the request is pretty last minute. The second email deals with the fact that who is to say if any assessment is "fair and normal" for a given student. As I just watched highly ranked men's b-ball teams tank in the NCAA tournament, it is apparent that if everyone always did the same, and tested to their best potential, there would be no need to use assessments at all. If you are allowing the students to jetison their lowest score, then you have been more than fair. Making exceptions starts you down a slippery slope that is unpredictable and not fair across the board.

    I remind students of upcoming tests and quizzes and let them know exactly what may or may not be considered a valid excuse that warrants a delayed testing date for dedicated students who have conflicts. Strong students work well under pressure, and this is undoubtedly a high pressure situation. Follow your class rules, or at least rules that apply to most students fairly. They are seniors - time to put on their big kid pants and deal with reality. I always worry that unexpected changes give unfair advantage to specific students, and I work very hard to keep the playing field as flat and fair as possible the majority of the students. It is a learning experience.

    Maybe not the answer you are looking for, but the answer that I can live with and remain sane.
     
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  10. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Mar 19, 2018

    I would say no to both students. For student 1, the fact that they mentioned not only a wedding event, but also that they had homework and tests in other classes really sealed the deal for me. I often hear this and let students know that this reason really gives me the impression that the other classes are more important than mine (or I am a better bet to be the pushover teacher to agree to their plea). This type of pleading will most likely not work at all in college.
     
  11. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    Mar 26, 2018

    This is why it is important to have policies for such scenarios in place. That way, you can simply respond with, “As written in the syllabus, the policy for such a request is x, y, z.” It takes all the subjectivity out if the equation.
     
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  12. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Mar 26, 2018

    I'd say no to both students too. In Grade 12, they should be able to organise their time around the commitments they have and the work assigned for all the classes they have. If you give concessions to one student you would have to give them to every student who asks. Who can be the judge of whether a wedding "trumps" any other excuse or reason?

    As for Student 2, the low grade is just a minor blimp if other results are consistently good. Its a good lesson in resilience; not everything in real life goes to plan and you just have to pick yourself up and move on.
     

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