Students not taking advantage of opportunities!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 8, 2014

    What do you do about students who don't take advantage of the opportunities to raise their grade or improve their test scores?

    I provide multiple opportunities to help students succeed on tests.

    - A study guide that details all of the information that will be on the exam.
    - We spend an entire period before each test reviewing study strategies and using them to prepare for the exam.
    - I essentially GIVE them their essay questions at the beginning of the unit, and we refer back to them the entire unit (they are our focus questions).
    - I allow students to use a half sheet of binder paper, front side only, to write notes on and use on the test.
    - I allow students to complete test corrections for half a point for each multiple choice questions, and completely redo one essay question.

    My problem is that the students who NEED to take advantage of these opportunities, DON'T. Instead, I get the students who get 24 out of 25 questions right, complete the corrections to get an extra half point that they really don't need.

    The students who have a 6 out of 25 don't do the corrections, they didn't create a note card, and I'm pretty darn sure they didn't even take a look at the study guide.

    It's frustrating, especially when these students are ones who have IEPs or 504s, and we have to explain to their parents why they're failing.

    Do you guys have any ideas on how to get students to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities presented to them? I'm thinking I might need to waste ANOTHER class period, essentially FORCING them to complete test corrections.
     
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  3. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Can you contact parents and tell them about the opportunities?
     
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    At some point you have to document what you just said and let the F stand. You can't force them to care when they clearly don't. It isn't personal.
     
  5. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I almost think you give them too many opportunities and that they might not even take the test seriously.
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I might agree with that if it were just the first test of the year and they were passing before the test, but that's not the case.

    They failed all prior tests as well. In addition, their projects are simply not done or turned in. So they've had consistent F's all the way around. Also if they saw they failed the test, they should want to do the corrections regardless of if they took it seriously or not because they've seen how it has affected their grade.

    If they thought they could just skimp on the test and still pass, that belief would have been smashed after our first test where they failed just as miserably, but they continued the same pattern on the second test as well. So it's not that they are not taking the test seriously. I think it's that they're not taking their work seriously, the entire class seriously, or even school seriously (they're obviously failing in a few other courses as well), to the point where they don't care if they fail.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 8, 2014

    School doesn't matter to some kids. Obviously, these habits have taken years to develop and you aren't going to change them overnight.

    Kudos to you for trying!
     
  8. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I'm going to go take a guess that you're under pressure by admin not to fail students. I know that when I taught middle, this was the case for teachers.

    You want to give everyone on your roster an A+? Sure, no problem.

    You want to fail one student? Please give them a multitude of opportunities to bring up their grade and, if they still can't, please provide complete documentation to prove that you can't pass them and also explain what went wrong in your class that kept this kid from passing.

    Unfortunately, the kids pick up on this "everyone must pass" philosophy and - as lucybelle said - they stop taking classes seriously and working hard.

    As far as I'm concerned, you've done everything you can. If they are determined to fail, they should fail.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Yeah. Not only from admin, but from the spec. ed. teachers, and parents as well. But I also don't want them to fail, and hoped I could do something that could help them succeed in my class.
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Nov 8, 2014

    Unfortunately, it is always like that. The kids who care will get good grades regardless. The will put the effort in to pass the first time. If a student didn't put the effort in to pass the first time, they most likely won't do it after the test either.
    Same with parents. The patents of kids who behave well, have good grades, and try will show up for conferences. The parent of poorly behaving students and students who put forth little effort don't show up.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 8, 2014

    Yep.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Why should they work if you're going to pass them anyhow? Why should they earn something when it will be given to them instead?

    Even if you won't personally do this (although it sounds as though admin won't back you up if you stand your ground), the kids have already learned year after year that they don't have to do anything.

    I say document what you do, send letters home about opportunities and talk to your administration. If they have spines, then stand your ground. And tell the parents and sped department that they need to back off and talk to the student. You've gone above and beyond.

    If your admin doesn't have a spine, then I have nothing for you. I couldn't work that much harder than my students. I'd fail them all.

    I will tell you that this happens in the middle schools here too. And when the kids get to me in high school, they have a very rude awakening.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    And if they have been passed along year after year, they may not really have any or many skills to draw from. So, even if they wanted to do the work, they may have little clue how to do so even though to a good student and to you it is painfully clear.
     
  14. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    I'm in the same boat. It's our 9th graders here. Half of them (out of 20) were failing my class. They didn't turn in any work. I would give them a test in class and somehow they wouldn't even turn that in. It was so frustrating because, as a first year teacher, I was worried it was my fault. I have made so many accommodations - you can listen to the audiobook, you can retake the test, you can take notes while you're reading or listening and use them on the tests, etc. Still, half my class just flat out didn't do anything. I finally decided to start assigning detentions due to lack of work. I told them in advance that if they didn't turn in specific items, they would be in with me during their spare 20 minutes before lunch. It's working. Three weeks later I only have five students failing and their grades are much higher (from 15-17s to 57-64s). My coworkers, however, have not done all this. One told me that all but two are failing her class. They want to have meetings about what rewards we could offer the 9th grade class to get them to work.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    uggh. rewards for doing what is expected. Rewards for taking advantage of FREE public education!!! Something children in other countries walk for hours to get. How ridiculous.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Thanks guys. I feel pressure from those groups I mentioned earlier, but so far there's been no edict passed down from on high, so their grades WILL reflect their mastery of the standards and the effort they've put in during class (which is nil) for now.

    I didn't want to have to do this because it would be somewhat of a waste of another day, but I might have to do what I did last year which is have a day after the exam where all students are required to work on test corrections. Those who scored with an A or above will get to do some sort of fun enrichment activity while those who did not will spend their time just doing the corrections.

    That way it's those who prepared who get rewarded, while those who did not will get saddled with work in class.

    I thought I could avoid this by spending a day before the exam teaching them study strategies and reviewing in class (because I didn't do that last year and I thought they could take the study skills with them to other classes). I will say that the students overall are way more prepared and there are far fewer this year who have failed, but there are still those few who do.
     
  17. leeshis0019

    leeshis0019 Companion

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    Nov 8, 2014

    Are there THAT many failing the tests and not taking advantage of the corrections?

    If it's a low percentage (even 10%) then I would not go that extra mile taking a day of class to force them to do corrections. However, you are in middle-school and might have different expectations, but when these students get into high school it's a rude-awakening. I have a few 504's and 1 IEP in high school Chemistry. Usually they don't get into Chemistry because it's an extremely difficult class, but these students seem to understand what is expected of them in any class. I allow corrections up to 70% and they almost always do them if I talk to them individually.

    Will taking a day after each exam take away from your future lessons? How were they during the unit/chapter? If they were struggling did they seek/accept help?
     
  18. Mathman82

    Mathman82 Rookie

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    I completely understand what you are going through and I'm sorry! It's happening to me right now and I have had to let it go and not take it personal, which is hard sometimes. However, students need to learn that if they don't take the opportunity, they will fail. I warn the students, if you want to retake the class again, continue not turning in work. I have had to realize that I cannot force this. My principal is supportive with this. I would try to talk to your principal about it. Hopefully you can give D's and F's in your school. It's so dumb when schools abolish the D's and F's. I will sometimes make the class well aware of particular students that work during class and get the required and extra opportunities completed.

    On another note, I've noticed this seems to happen around the 2nd quarter over the years. Very frustrating!

    Bless you for teaching middle school! Let them know this won't fly in high school!
     
  19. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I think it is great that you want your students so much to succeed. It is the students who are earning the failing grade, and it is not your fault.

    What can you do? In this situation where students aren't doing what is needed to pass the class, I highly suggest contacting the parents. Parents don't like their students getting an "F", and you will probably get some of the parents on board.

    Also, how much of the problem is poor test scores? Are these failing students doing their homework, but failing tests? If so, these students probably have some concern in doing well in Science, and are worth working with to improve test scores.

    How are these students doing in other classes? That is something that I always liked about teaching middle school. I had colleagues who had the same students as myself. I could see if the student had other problems with another teacher. I always learned something in discussing a child with another teacher who taught that same child.

    Also, the tough question is: Are these students lazy and apathetic, or do they think they are dumb and can't do it? I would show them that you believe they can do it and point out strengths. Get on them for lack of effort and not doing what they can about improving their grades. Show that you care, but make it clear you don't give out grades...all grades reflect a student's work and performance in your class. This is something they can control.

    Good luck to you.
     
  20. physteach

    physteach Companion

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    Nov 9, 2014

    After every test I give, I send a notification home (we have a web based system for doing this) with the students score listed and what they must do to improve that particular grade. That seems to light a fire under most students.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    OP, you said a lot of the kids are on 504s or IEPs. How far behind are the kids on IEPs and in what areas?

    Kids that have been passed on in the past rarely have skills at the level to do the work and rarely get the right type of help to improve the skills they need for your class. Often by the time they get to your grade, they have decided there is no reason to try because they don't have the skills and they don't need to do anything to pass. That, in my opinion, is not their fault (not yours either).

    So, I wonder, how far behind are these kids. What seems straight forward to us is often something they struggle to comprehend (learning how to learn and connections that you offer in your lessons go over their head).

    If all you really want is for them to track down information and copy it to make test corrections, does that really do anything to help them or is it a hoop for them to jump through to give the appearance of learning.

    I think your problem goes far beyond them not following your protocol. Also, if a kid is reading years below grade level, are you sure they can read well enough to find the material they need to make a correction? I remember a teacher having a fit because she gave open book tests and the kids with the IEPs still failed. How could that be when the answers were right there. Well, they were reading at least 3 years below grade level and they couldn't read enough to understand the textbook even if they could get the gist of the questions. In her mind, the open book test was a gift primarily designed to boos the grades of the kids who were terribly behind. She couldn't get her mind around the fact that it wouldn't help those she wanted it to help because they couldn't read well enough to take advantage of the open textbook which they didn't read at any other time because they couldn't read the textbook.
     
  22. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    My test corrections require them to identify why they got it wrong originally, and provide a written rationale for the correct answer, so it's not just the appearance of learning.

    These students have accommodations where they can work with the Spec. Ed. teacher if they wish to help them read the test questions and explain the terminology in it (not directly related to answering the question).

    But what you say does make sense. For one student who was failing my class, she was passing in math and English, but not in History or Science. One of the aides attributed it to the fact that she just doesn't like history or science, but I think it has more to do with the fact that math and English get support in class with an aide pushing in to help the student individually, while we don't have that support in science and history.
     
  23. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Your response points more to the fact that these students may not have the ability to do what you want. Think about the student that has trouble with written expression in both of the areas of ideas and style/syntax, trouble with reading and comprehension (both reading and listening), and memory and/or processing problems. You have a recipe for disaster, especially when there isn't support. The other issues is the support they are getting in the other classes may look like they are successful, but it has been my experience that sometimes that support crosses the line from teaching/support to giving them the answers. Also, I have found that kids with disabilities will sometimes have such modified work that when they do pass, it isn't with true grade level curriculum.

    I do believe you hit the nail on the head with the lack of support being part of the problem. The reality is, if the students need that much help in English and math they certainly need the same support in history and science because history is reading and writing and science is reading, writing, and sometimes math.

    I don't know what else to tell you. Mom and dad of these kids might be the difference. They won't like failing grades, but they might push to get the kids additional support.

    Additionally, I do like how you do corrections, but in a way, what you do doesn't show learning/mastery, but it does expose the students to the material one more time which is a help for many students.
     
  24. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Thanks a2z. Parents already know what's going on since we had an IEP meeting with them. The parent will push the student to do better, but I think there are a lot of other issues going on with this student that they probably want to take care of first.

    I will try to get parent on board with the corrections and such, because as you say even if they don't show mastery, they help the student continue to rework through the material.
     
  25. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    amen to that!
     
  26. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    .......you'll have to just pass them, anyhow. If the administration wants it and the parents want it, either you'll do it or they'll find someone who will. :dunno:
     

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