Students who do no work, but ace tests

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by RadiantBerg, Jan 18, 2014.

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  1. RadiantBerg

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    I currently have one student (I have a few others that are similar, but a less extreme) who has around a 10% as a homework average, but he manages to get 90s on all the tests. Tests/quizzes are worth 80% of the grade in my class and homework/classwork is worth 20%. This student averages a C, even though his test/quiz average shows "A" level understanding of the material. He just gets the material based on paying attention in class, and sees no need to do the practice. (And yes, I have tried giving "differentiated" homework to offer a challenge if the regular homework is too easy or boring for him, but he didn't do that either. My homework is also generally very short---takes less than 20 minutes...usually around 10-15. )

    What do you do for students like this? Would you consider giving him a grade higher than the one calculated? I've thought about at least bumping him to a B, but at the same time, I want him to learn to be responsible and don't want to reward him for blowing off the homework. This would set a dangerous precedent for other students so I will most likely not do this.
     
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  3. Jeky

    Jeky Comrade

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    Just out of curiosity, have you talked to him about it? Does he care that he is getting a C when he clearly understands the material? Has he actually said that he doesn't do the homework because it's too easy for him?

    In terms of his grade, I'm torn. What grade/subject do you teach? What is your purpose for assigning homework? If the purpose is to give extra practice so that they can master the standards, well... I mean, if your grade is meant to reflect standard mastery and he is showing that he has, ideally his grade should reflect that.

    On the other hand, though, I don't think that 20% of the grade based on homework is unreasonable at all. In addition, if that is the precedent you have set for your class, I don't think it's fair to change it now.

    Is there a place on your report card where you can reflect his lack of homework completion, other than the actual letter grade? A work habits section maybe?
     
  4. comaba

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    Clearly, he's mastered the content. I would give him an A. Perhaps differentiating the test would motivate him to do the homework.
     
  5. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    He earned a C, he gets a C. If a student passes all my tests/quizzes with Ds and is getting an E because of homework (10% of grade), I won't let them fail on hw alone, but otherwise, you get what you decide to get.

    I've talked to many students who make this choice and they understand the choice they're making- it's just not worth it to them to earn the A. Sometimes, they're taking AP classes as well and they'd rather concentrate on that class and skate through mine. Their call.
     
  6. otterpop

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    :yeahthat:

    I would have a talk with him though. Maybe some encouragement would make a difference; it sounds to me like self-sabotage. He probably is a really smart kid who can go far in life. Does he realize that grades often impact scholarships and which colleges he can attend? Putting in the extra effort to get that "A" when he clearly can make a big difference in his future options.
     
  7. Myrisophilist

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    My personal feelings align with HistoryVA and otterpop. However, since my school is going to proficiency-based and summative assessments are 80% of the grade, this situation would be fine. It's a tough call. I would ask myself, "Does the student know the material?" and I would also talk to them, as others have suggested.
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

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    He earned a C. If he is smart enough to get an A then he is smart enough to realize the impact of his choices.
     
  9. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    In my class, he would get a C. My homework is often extension activities and has more challenging problems than I give on tests, so it needs to get done.
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I usually pull those students aside and show them their grade books. It usually triggers a discussion of how quantity is overriding quality, that they're "an A student trapped in a C student outlook." That often gets me some late assignments turned in, which I gladly accept for credit.
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

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    My job is not only to teach a set of a standards but to prepare my students for the next course they'll be taking in our discipline. That next course requires homework. You simply cannot be successful in it if you do not do work outside of class time. Giving a student an A when he earned a C is only encouraging him to slack off even more next year.
     
  12. Go Blue!

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    I don't mind bumping up a student's grade when they make a real effort - even if they perform poorly on tests.

    No effort, but good test grades? You get what you get.
     
  13. gr3teacher

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    Obviously it's quite different in elementary school... but for a kid like that, with our standards based report cards, they'd get a 4 for the standard. The only negative consequence would come in their "Life and Citizenship Skills" ratings.
     
  14. dgpiaffeteach

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    This is partially why I stopped assigning as much homework and why it's worth 10% of their grade when I do. I care that they learn the standards and are prepared. If they're not responsible, it will show in other areas like projects and papers.
     
  15. RadiantBerg

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    My school would have a HUGE problem with this. They need to have the required skills to move on to the next course, which is why homework/classwork/"fluff" can't exceed 20% of the grade.
     
  16. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Is the point of a grade to reflect mastery of skills, or is it to reflect effort?
     
  17. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I don't see how this is ok either.
     
  18. platypusok

    platypusok Companion

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    This. I truly believe that it's not only mastering content but about responsibility and effort as well. And our state's big message is to get them ready for college and career. And not doing the coursework shows a lack of responsibility.

    Plus, I really don't think it's fair (and I know life isn't fair) to the kid who works their butt off for a C. And students and parents (because I've had parents make this argument) think they deserve a grade because they can pass a test.
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    If a student can skip all of the homework and ace tests and quizzes and do a good job on projects, obviously the student doesn't need to do the rest of the work to show they understand and can apply the standards.

    Not doing homework when it is not needed actually shows me that the student knows what he or she is capable of and doesn't want to waste his or her time doing work that will not be beneficial. That is a huge skill in life - knowing what is worth the time and what is just a waste of time. Doing something just because you are told to do so just produces compliant drones when a student doesn't need to do the work to be successful. There are plenty of times in life students will learn to comply.

    The other issue to look at is if the class is designed such that a student just has to pay attention in class to be able to ace a test. A kid that is a natural in math might be able to do this, but some classes such as English don't always assess what they think they are assessing. Most don't assess reading comprehension nor do they assess analysis if the information asked by the prompt has already been discussed in class. Asking about themes in a novel or foreshadowing after this has all been discussed in class doesn't test the students ability to do anything except regurgitate information provided in class.
     
  20. kpa1b2

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    I'm not a high school teacher, and I'm just throwing this out as an option: Could he take the final exam now and test out of the class? Then he could be moved to a class that is more challenging for him?

    Or, could someone stress to him the importance of good grades when it comes to college acceptance and scholarships?
     
  21. Myrisophilist

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    Do you really believe the student has thought deeply enough about the homework to come to this conclusion? It's most likely that he just doesn't want to do it because it's work.
     
  22. gr3teacher

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    Gifted kids do often think that way. If they know something is just "busywork" for them with no benefit, they won't do it.
     
  23. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I disagree about English a2z. We may discuss a theme in class, but they must be able to defend that theme with evidence from the text. If they can't do that part, they're not passing. It is very easy to see who actually understood the reading and its theme and who just wants to use class discussions. The latter don't provide evidence that makes sense.

    I would also never test over something that's not taught in class. I can't imagine asking my students to analyze a theme and never reviewing what a theme is with them. We will use it in later units too though and then I don't review it since we've been over it.

    You may disagree but it works well for us. It's not a strict did you get it correct or not subject. I also rarely do comprehension level questions. Your reading comp level comes across in analysis questions.

    In high school, my social studies and science classes were just regurgitating information from lectures. No application. English and French truly challenged me.
     
  24. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Yes. I would frequently not do homework in classes where I knew I could ace the tests to focus on classes that needed more of my attention.
     
  25. Pashtun

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    He gets an A in my class. If he knows the content, he knows the content. If you don't think he deserves an A, I would start putting material on the homework or in the independent reading that you DO NOT talk about in class and that will show up on the test.
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    For gosh sakes, how hard does someone really need to think to determine that the standard required homework isn't necessary to learn the material. I think many highly intelligent kids know the work being expected is unnecessary but most will do it because they don't want to deal with the negative attitude they get from not complying.

    And yes, I do know many smart kids that in certain classes know they don't have to do a bit of homework because the class is designed to provide everything they need if they just show up and listen. The kids that can ace the tests working this matter are intelligent enough to think about this. I don't think you give the kids enough credit.
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I'm happy to hear that you are expecting much, much more. It is good to know. Unfortunately, not all are dgpiaffeteachs.
     
  28. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Totally this. I was one of those kids that could get A's in my sleep. I usually tried to do homework for my first period class while my second period teacher was lecturing (which worked well, because I listen better that way anyway), because if it wasn't done by the end of the school day... it just wasn't going to happen.
     
  29. readingrules12

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    I think there is a short-term answer and a long-term answer.

    Short-term--you and/or your school have a policy in place where he has earned a "C" for a grade. I believe it is important to follow the rules created and give him the "C" he deserves.

    Long term--I think you make an excellent point when you say, I want him to learn to be responsible and don't want to reward him for blowing off the homework. I agree. In real life, being smart often isn't enough. We had a teacher who was one of the smartest teachers I ever taught with. She was put on probation and eventually left when it was rumoured her contract might not be renewed. She had poor work habits often not turning in lesson plans or other required work. I knew her well and she would boast how she got straight A's in high school and college without doing assigned reading or homework. I think deep down she wished her teachers would have held her more accountable for her work.

    If you want to change policies a bit now or a lot for next year, I think that is fine. I wouldn't recommend it though. I think your current grade policy is very fair and beneficial to your students.
     
  30. Honest_Teacher

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    The kid should be in a class that's challenging enough for him/her that he/she HAS to do their homework to be prepared for the exams. That, I think, is the long-term solution. I honest-to-God wish that had happened to me at a younger age to master those work habits; it was much more painful to learn how to master those skills once I got to graduate school/the real world.
     
  31. Pashtun

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    Yep, this times 1000. If you want to "force" them to do homework, design your class better.
     
  32. RadiantBerg

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    Hahaha, no chance in hell he would pass the final and test out of the class. I've yet to meet a student who could test out of algebra 2 without being taught it.
     
  33. RadiantBerg

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    This is almost DEFINITELY the case.
     
  34. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    That is sadly true. I know teachers who basically pass a student if he shows up.
     
  35. Go Blue!

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    At my school, Homework is 10%, Classwork is 40% and Major Tests/Projects are 50%.

    Failing kids for performing poorly on tests, especially if they make an effort in class, would get me in trouble.
     
  36. Go Blue!

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    Where I teach, if we waited for fully mastery - no one would ever graduate on time. Our district's drop out rate is high enough, having kids repeat the same course over and over again does not make the situation better.
     
  37. Rockguykev

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    The fact that we still have this argument shows how pointless grades are. We can't even agree with my 5 person department on what grades ought to reflect so there's no way the education system in general is going to do so.

    Personally, I think with kids like that you set out a individualized plan. We do so with lower achieving kids so why not the higher? It is far more important for high achievers to learn what is important to spend their time on then to learn to just put in whatever is asked. The economics of time is far too often ignored in our desire to have compliant students.
     
  38. Honest_Teacher

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    A "passing" grade shouldn't be set at "full mastery."

    This also sounds very...defeatist?
     
  39. Go Blue!

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    That's my point. A kid can get a 60% and pass without mastery. Are they ready for the next course? Probably not. But having them repeat the course is rarely beneficial.
     
  40. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    It's interesting, in all of this, to hear about different districts' grading policies. My district has, for some bizarro reason, gone so far AWAY from assessment-based grading that a student who aced every test, but literally refused to take do any work would have about a 30% at the end of the semester (assuming he took his quizzes as asked). Tests are only worth 20% in my district.
     
  41. ajr

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    This makes me incredibly glad I'm out of highschool, because this is ridiculous.

    None of my upper level math classes have more than 10% homework grade, and most don't have any homework grade whatsoever. The homework is a small cross section of covered topics, and there's a larger set of additional study problems. It's up to the student to figure out where to best spend their time studying, and even per-subject, what areas they understand least.

    Then there are the classes that don't have any formal grading policies whatsoever.

    Beyond that, algebra isn't as hard as people are making it out to be. People struggle with it because they're being asked to learn something they really couldn't care less about, so memorizing inane rules takes a long time. If he has even a mild interest in math, it's perfectly believable to me that he doesn't need to study. You only need to understand a very small set of rules to generate all of elementary algebra.

    Not everyone who is smart and can get the work done is motivated to do that work by meaningless letters on a piece of paper, and that there are good career paths for people regardless of highschool performance - as long as you graduate. I think I got out of highschool with a 1.2 GPA.

    Personally, I'm rooting for that kid. Pass highschool with that C and get away from the idiocy of it, two years of cheap community college, and then transfer to a four year. Or go to votech training. Or skip that and go straight into the workforce, if he has marketable interests.
     
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