"Test" grades for random stuff?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by RussianBlueMommy, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Hello
    I was wondering what your thoughts were on teachers giving test grades for random stuff. My 16 year old kid in high school, texted me to tell me he failed a math exam (Algebra 2). But it was "OK" because the teacher was doing a "binder check" and if you had all your notes you got a 100 test grade in the book and that would help compensate for the failing test.

    This same teacher has also done Book cover checks before for the same thing, when several did bad on a test.

    Another one of his high school teachers for his Government class saw that several students failed a test, so she gave them a coloring sheet on The Constitution as a TEST GRADE.

    I'm not against giving a kid a little extra credit of actual WORK pertaining to the subject matter for a little boost at the end of the reporting period. However, binder checks and book cover checks and coloring sheets for HIGH SCHOOL seems a bit ridiculous.

    My kids go to a different high school than I work at, because we live in a different district than the one I work in. As a parent, it frustrates me that my child is being given free passes instead of being held accountable by teachers to learn the material. Am I being overly critical? From a teacher standpoint, I would feel the same way.

    If you, as a teenager know that failing a test simply means you get a random silly thing as a test grade, what motivation is there for actually learning the material and passing the test?
     
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  3. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I do not give test grades for anything other than quizzes and tests. However, my categories are not weighted. My grades are strictly based on points. I have categories color-coded in my gradebook, and one color is for "optional." I always try to make sure it does not equal more than 5% of the total points possible. Also, in order to be eligible for optional assignments, students must have turned in all required assignments. I teach two subjects that are considered "college prep" and I severely limit opportunities for extra credit in those classes. I also teach two subjects that are career path electives. Those classes tend to have more opportunities to earn points. Many of those students do not take traditional pen and paper tests well, so I offer them multiple ways to show they understand the topic.
     
  4. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I don't even like the fact that we have to give points to students for homework and classwork that pertains to the subject matter. In our CP math classes, homework and classwork is a mandated 20% of the grade. In honors and AP math classes, it's a mandated 0% of the grade. I wish it was 0% for both, and the grades could just be based on tests and quizzes. So, no, I would never give "test" grades for random stuff. If a teacher in my district did that, they would be having a discussion with their supervisor about it for sure.

    This type of thing really creates problems for next year's teacher. When the pre-calc teacher sees an "A" on the transcript from last year for algebra 2, they have certain expectations for what the student can do. And I can assure you that those expectations are not that they can keep an organized binder or cover a textbook.
     
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  5. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I disagree that grades should only consist of tests and quizzes. But I wouldn’t find any of these test grades appropriate for any grade level.
     
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  6. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I'm just talking math. Of course there's room for a good lab report in science or research paper in social studies. I can't deny that.
     
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  7. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    In math, things like open response questions in class, problem solving activities, exit tickets, etc. could also count for a grade...especially with younger kids.
     
  8. otterpop

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    Hmm...

    Coloring sheets would be a definite "no".

    Binder checks... It depends on how the teacher uses the binder. I suppose I might see a binder check as a type of formative assessment, if the teacher has strict requirements for the binder. However, I agree that actual summative tests should be tests. I strongly disagree with grade inflation by giving easy grades, but it happens all the time.
     
  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    This is the new America, where everyone gets a participation award and failing is accepted and constitutes passing.
     
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  10. TrademarkTer

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    I think those things are awesome for formative assessment, and to help prepare students for the things that will be going in the gradebook. Or if they go in the gradebook, keep their weight as small as possible (sometimes we need to grade things for compliance purposes, I get that).
     
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  11. Teacher234

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    I would never grade book covers or coloring sheets. That seems outrageous, even for mid-elementary. For all of the grades I teach, a test grade might be a major project or a major assessment. I may make a few quizzes a test grade, not due to the atypical grading policies that the Spec. Ed dept and distract agreed upon, simply due to content/curriculum set up.
     
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  12. Joyful!

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    Did you ask the teacher about the assessment procedure in their class? Does the syllabus outline the binder checks? Is your teenager accurate or mistaken, if you know? (I have students who represent their perceptions to their parents and sometimes they are mistaken. Not intentionally, of course.)

    For me, without that information, I could not hope to comment fairly.
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    I actually believe this story to be true. I’ve tutored students who said they got credit for doing this kind of thing in class and proved it by showing their assignments. For instance, one kid got extra credit added onto his test for vacuuming his teacher’s floor and killing flies in the room. The teacher’s rule was 5 points for each dead fly — you just have to show him the dead body to receive the points. So what this student did was collect dead flies from around his house and bring them to school. The teacher would just give him points when the student showed them the bodies in a Ziploc bag. Ridiculous.

    When I heard this, this was my reaction:
    :confused::eek::rolleyes:o_O:dizzy:
     
  14. Joyful!

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    It's not that I doubt the veracity, it is just that I prefer a full picture and would want to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt until I knew more.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
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  15. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    This isn't a new concept...when I was in HS I had teachers give grades for having organized binders as well as significant amounts of extra credit points for things like not using the bathroom pass, bringing in boxes of tissues or other requested supplies, having good behavior in class, etc. Some teachers also gave extra credit for dumb stuff like singing the fight song on the morning announcements. One math teacher made up a song about our school and his class to the tune of the "Green Acres" theme song and gave 50 points to anyone who would sing it in front of the class. For reference, I was a freshman 17 years ago and this was a HS that was rated "Excellent with Distinction" on the state reporting system. I'm surprised that with standards based grading (maybe that's not happening everywhere?) this stuff still goes on.
     
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  16. TrademarkTer

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    And btw what about the kid who does well on the test, but doesn't keep an organized binder? This kid clearly knows algebra so shouldn't it be their knowledge of algebra that is reflected in their grade, and not their organizational system (or lack thereof) that got them there.
     
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  17. TrademarkTer

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    I don't think standards-based grading is nearly as prevelant in high schools as it is in middle/elementary schools. Our district has it in the elementary school, and is working it up to the middle school, but they don't think we will ever have it in high school until college admissions offices are all on-board.
     
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  18. otterpop

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    I agree.
     
  19. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Tests, projects, and essays are all in one category for me with my grading system. Those are the only things that go there. I very rarely give extra credit beyond a bonus question on a test or quiz. I believe that their grades should be a true reflection of their understanding of the material. Occasionally I'll offer a small writing assignment as extra credit, but that usually goes into their quiz grade category.
    I do allow them to do corrections to essays for half points back because I want them to learn what mistakes they made and how to avoid them in the future. That's optional though, so I guess in theory that's a bit like extra credit.
    Coloring pages is ridiculous in my opinion.
     
  20. gr3teacher

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    I could see a binder check, assuming it's a one-time thing, and assuming that keeping an organized binder is legitimately important for the class. A test grade for having a book cover is asinine though.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't give or grade a coloring page IN GRADE 3
     
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  22. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I left an email for her. I hope to hear back soon.... I do see 120 points under a daily grade for the signature sheet I signed at the beginning of the year... what the heck.?
     
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  23. TrademarkTer

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    Are "daily grades" a certain fixed percentage of their overall grades though?
     
  24. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    50%.
     
  25. TrademarkTer

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    .
    While I'm still not in love with it, I guess that's a little better than putting it in with tests and quizzes. I'm not sure 120 is a reasonable point value though, unless everything is worth a high number of points.
     
  26. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I was looking at the numbers wrong

    Daily is 50%
    Six week test is 30%
    Tests is 20%
     
  27. Always__Learning

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    Grades should reflect what kids are able to demonstrate about their learning. So I don't agree with the grading system described. I also don't agree with the idea of grading only based on tests, quizzes and projects. I think grades should be based on what students can demonstrate in a variety of ways about the standards for the course. This can include conversations, observations and products, so projects/tests really shouldn't make up more than about 1/3 of the grade. But where I work we don't average anymore, we look for most consistent and most recent. Ken O'Conner would be an example of a perspective I would support.
     
  28. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    In high school and college and beyond, your grade is based almost entirely on tests and quizzes. Even certain professions make you take tests and your continued employment is contingent on your performance on said tests.

    That’s why we should start doing that for younger students, so that they are prepared for that once they enter higher grades. Basing a student’s grade on conversations (really?), observations (only formal observations are useful where grades are concerned), and projects (if they are major products that are cumulative and require them to master multiple topics, then I can agree with that) seems like a highly subjective and inconsistent way to determine a student’s performance.

    For example, let’s say Johnny (a fictitious student) seems to get the material when you observe him interacting with other students in class. However, when you put a problem set in front of him on the same material he just discussed, he is unable to answer any of the questions correctly, and this is not a one-time occurrence. It happens many times. That’s okay in your gradebook, it would seem, because he conversed with his peers and you observed him “getting it.”
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
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  29. TrademarkTer

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    The only time I could see conversations making sense would be like a foreign language class. In fact, that's the one subject that I would argue that more of the grade should be based on how well they can speak the language. I got As in high school Spanish, but I was never fluent because I never really had to speak the language besides for a skit here or there. Observations---maybe like in a science lab if you observing lab techniques.

    Having projects and tests only 1/3 of the grade? I agree that this sounds absolutely absurd. I can't imagine entering grades into our online system "Observation 9/24: 10/10" "Conversation 9/25: 7/10"
     
  30. futuremathsprof

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    I completely agree. In a foreign language class, conversations should be a large part of your grade, as should observations in lab practicals. In situations like those, observations and conversations are necessary and more appropriate. However, they are not and should not be in ALL classes across the board.
     
  31. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I think we have to be careful with this ("it prepares...") argument -- i.e. how homework has been shown to be less beneficial (if not harmful) at elementary levels, but has shown some benefit in upper grades, whereas independent reading shows significantly positive effects. As a result, I push for kids to be reading as much as possible rather than "preparing them" homework-wise, as that has the most benefit (and really, it's slowly increasing anyways - between chores at home, the little bits of homework and occasional projects for school, etc...)

    That's why you often will see grading systems in elementary where tests/quizzes certainly play a part, but there will be other forms of assessments, too. For example, for the tech grade, students had their "words per minute" typing tests, they had some projects they completed, but then I also based that score on what I saw throughout the year: were they able to develop independence and problem solving? Were they needing help with the same skills over and over?

    Obviously, that'll probably decrease as you enter the upper-middle school / high school levels, but elementary is a significantly different beast, since you have the same kids there throughout the entire day and have a more whole picture of who they are (not to mention many are in the process of learning how to take assessments, to begin with!).
     
  32. TrademarkTer

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    For once we have an OP talking about high school though! Woohoo!!!!!!
     
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  33. Ima Teacher

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    I have categories for classwork, reading tests/quizzes, writing tests/final drafts, and a catch-all. The classwork is usually higher just because we are working on it more and they get more assistance. Tests are graded to the standard mastery, as are writing pieces. The catch all is where I keep track of extra work, standardized test scores, returning misc. paperwork, etc. That category doesn’t even figure into their overall grade. It just gives me data for talking with parents.

    I don’t particularly like giving classwork scores because they aren’t accurate measures of application of the skills since we were working on it together on things we read and discuss. The tests/quizzes (weekly) are application of the skill with a cold read, and that’s what I really need to see what they are lacking.
     
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  34. otterpop

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    This is also one of those situations that is hard to judge without knowing the school culture.

    Yes, it's easy to say that a binder shouldn't be an assessment - that's true. But some schools are much more lax than others. This could be one outlying teacher making an odd choice, but it could also be a norm for the school or at least several teachers at the school.

    Grades are often inflated or teachers will give large amounts of points to assignments that don't deserve a heavy weight. Many teachers feel bad failing students or are under admin pressure to not do so. I think it's a very common practice actually, and it's one that really harms our education system.
     
  35. Ms.Holyoke

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    Apparently, my admin does NOT like to see F's. So I might be one of the teachers artificially inflating grades!!
     
  36. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I am a high school teacher and our grades are not based almost entirely on tests and quizzes. In fact, our grades are based equally on observations, conversations and products in all subject areas. For example, Math absolutely has a balance of observations, conversations and products where I work in a high school.
     
  37. Always__Learning

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    We also don't enter grades the way that is being described (i.e. out of 25). We grade based on standards. The student achieves basically an A, B, C or D in the standard and then we look at how that student achieved in that standard most consistently and most recently over a course. We don't average numbers. Again, Ken O'Conner is a starting point. That's what we read in 2000 when we started changing our grading practices.
     
  38. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    I have no qualms about failing a student if they don’t perform well in the classroom. At my school, if you score anything less than a 70% as your final grade, it’s an automatic F as we don’t give D’s. Our reason is that colleges won’t accept a D average and neither would an employer, so what good does it do to award a student a D?

    This puts the pressure on for students because even if the gradebook rounds up a 69.5 to a 70%, we would still report their final grade as an F. This prevents students from thinking they can just coast through a class and pass with minimal effort. They constantly are forced to study hard because they get scared if their grade nears 70% because they have virtually no wiggle room if their grade dips below that.

    I wish more schools did this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
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  39. Ms.Holyoke

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    I find it kind of ridiculous that it's on the teacher if there is an F! I have a girl who does NOTHING in class. I've attempted to call her mother, etc. and she doesn't come to extra help. I know it's only middle school, but I know it is not my fault that she will probably fail. The only reason she isn't failing is because of completion grades! (But I think my principal likes these, so...)
     
  40. futuremathsprof

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    Absolutely unacceptable on the part of your principal! Is there not something that you can do with regards to preventing your principal from forcing you to alter grades? That is completely unethical and my school board members would step in if my P or VP’s tried to make my colleagues and I do this.

    I would document the student not doing anything and build a case for her not passing.

    I’m outraged that you have to do this!
     
  41. Ms.Holyoke

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    No one is forcing me to alter grades but my math coach says I need to "get creative" because it's not ok to have five kids failing my class. By getting creative, she meant pulling kids for individual help, etc. but that's not possible with my class sizes. (Note: I actually do not have 5 kids failing right now -- I just have one failing, but I do have five kids who are showing "F" level of understanding.) No one is forcing me to alter grades BUT if they don't like to see the F's, then I need to find a way to give credit for classwork, etc. that isn't just based on mastery.
     

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