when more than half the class fails a test..

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by traeh, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Apr 20, 2008

    I just gave the same test to two of my classes. Both classes failed miserably. Not only did I spend 2 weeks preparing them for it, but we did a REVIEW day the day before and I even did a quick review the day of the test, right before they took it.

    Even my usual A students got Cs and D's. The sad part is, I don't feel pity for them because there were a lot of kids goofing off during the review and not taking it seriously, even after I gave them several warnings. They are going to try to put the blame on me, and I am going to explain to them that you only learn if you put forth the effort and pay attention. However, I don't know what to do about this. I mean.. what if I get in trouble because of THEIR choice not to pay attention or study?

    The scores on this test are horrendous and painful to look at. What do I do?????????
     
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  3. historyguy79

    historyguy79 Rookie

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    I had the same problem with my midterm. But I didn't make it (department midterm) and I know none of the students studied. None of the kids studied, but for the final I think I'm going to do a little more review.

    Besides that, there is nothing you can do. Learn from it and try better next time. If it was a test you created, perhaps reevaluate the questions or methods of the test. If not, try different ways of review. Otherwise, nothing you can do.
     
  4. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Why am I so worried then? I know I am going to have to deal with their complaining. I'm not curving it because I curved one test at the beginning of the year and said that was the last time I'd do that. What if the class averages are F's??? I'm constantly worrying about backlash from parents / administrators. I feel like they'll look at this test and blame it on me not teaching them the material, when the reality is that they don't LISTEN and choose not to study.
     
  5. historyguy79

    historyguy79 Rookie

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    I dunno, depends on the district I guess. My district, that parents don't seem to care much. I taught the material in my midterm. My kids complained a little, but when it came down to it none of them really studied and they knew it.

    What I did for review was give them a 7 page packet (with about 30 IDs on each), with basically every person/place/thing that would be on the 200 questions multiple choice test. If they did the entire review, they would get 15 points added onto their grade. Gotta give them some kind of incentive to study I guess. The kids who did the review did the best in class, the others just barely passed or failed horribly.

    Either way, there is nothing you can do at this point except try a different approach next time. It sounds like it's the kids fault for not studying, but even if it wasn't, you shouldn't beat yourself up over it. Just change the approach to the test next time and move on. I doubt it's the last time something like this will happen.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    It's funny that you bring this up, because the same thing happened in my classes last week.

    I don't generally offer review sessions at all. I find that many students just tune out for the day, so it's kind of a waste of my time. I did not offer a review session for this most recent test either, but I did give students plenty of fair warning--it had been announced via our class webpage at least two weeks previously.

    So on the day of the test, our bellringer writing assignment asks students to describe how they prepared for the exam. Most students (I'm talking like 90% of my students) wrote that they either a) forgot that there was a test or b) had "more important" things to do over the weekend. In my opinion, if students are not responsible and/or organized enough to remember the date of a major exam, they kind of get what's coming to them.

    The scores on the exam were awful. The class average was about 45%, but that doesn't at all reflect their actual performance. A few students in each class earned nearly perfect scores, while many earned like 3 points.

    Usually if many students bomb a test like that, I curve the test and reteach, because I feel like I must have done something wrong. The thing is, with this most recent test, the test was all review. There were no new concepts on the test. [We're at a time in the year where we sort of circle "old" concepts to make sure that everyone gets it before we move on into the harder stuff next year.] What's more, the content of the test was stuff that they had seen before. Verbatim!

    In this case, where I firmly believe that the students dropped the ball--not me--I'm not feeling especially lenient. I do understand that some of their overall grades did drop by as much as 2 letter grades, though, so I did come up with a plan.

    I'm offering a make-up exam to all students, on two conditions: the exam will only be held on Monday after school, and the exam is going to be harder. They are going to have to earn their new scores, if those scores really matter to them.

    I figure that offering a make-up exam covers me in the event that a student complains about one exam affecting his score so dramatically. "Hey, I offered you the chance to turn that 5% into 100%. If you chose not to take the make-up or not to prepare well enough for the make-up, that's on you."

    We'll see if they do better on the make-up.
     
  7. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I know that this is not a popular view but why do we give tests--to see if the students learned the material? If that many failed whether they studied or not then they did not learn the material. I would feel like I had to do something else to get them to learn the material. I will sometimes do a points back or give a test correction journal. I do have a form that I use for a test correction journal and would be happy to send out copies.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Theoretically and in a perfect setting, yes.

    The fact is that, at least in my experience, issues besides comprehension factor into things. As I mentioned a few posts back, my students flat out told me that they hadn't prepared. And, they had seen the material before and demonstrated their understanding of it before. Evidently at some point between then and the day of the test they completely forgot what they were doing. That happens, and I can live with that.

    What I cannot accept, however, is when students aren't responsible or self-directed enough to identify that they have lost some of the material and that they need to ask me for help. Not one student came to me at any point since the exam was announced and stated that they were confused about anything. In fact, when I asked them, they told me that they understood it and planned to get As.
     
  9. ddb23

    ddb23 Companion

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    Apr 20, 2008

    I teach math, so this may be different from what works best for your subject, but here's what I do:

    a) Return the tests and let them discuss and explore their mistakes.

    b) Allow students the chance to correct mistakes to earn points back.

    c) While they do this, I observe what caused the mistakes - careless errors or true misunderstanding.

    d) Discuss the results with the students, contact some parents to discuss the test.

    I teach pre algebra and deal with a lot of "math anxiety" from kids who are apprehensive about their next few years in math. When they get the chance to analyze their mistakes and see where they went wrong, an F can actually turn out to be a C with a lot of careless mistakes. That being said, the original grade still stands - they have to complete additional work to add points back to their grade.


    Now, if your kids are "on strike" and getting lazy because it's the end of the year, then you can use a more iron fisted approach.


    hope that helps!

    db
     
  10. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Yes chemteach, their poor performance does prove that they didn't learn the material, because for the TWO weeks that they were supposed to be learning, they CHOSE TO TALK/NOT LISTEN TO ME. I'm so perturbed by their behavior, that I don't really want to allow them to earn any points back. However, ONLY because the few students that typically do well, got C's, do I want to allow them to earn some points back.

    I don't know whether to curve, give a retest, or allow corrections, or just let it be. The test was worth about 60 points.

    I just hate the fact that as teachers we have to cater to those who make poor choices, and suffer the consequences of those choices. If I knew I wouldn't have to deal with possible backlash from parents/administrators, I would tell them they got what they earned, and I would try a different approach next time. You live and learn right?
     
  11. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Apr 20, 2008

    Cassie, I agree w/you entirely.

    DDB- Do you spend a whole period going over the test? Also, how many points can they earn back per correction?
     
  12. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I am not saying that it is your fault that they did not learn the material. I never just curve a test because that would be rewarding the bad behavior but I would do something especially since your better students did not do well on the test. I would make them analyze their own behavior and study skills. When I do a test correction, they correct each question, find the day that it was taught in their notes, and analyze how they prepared for the test. For this I will add 5 points to their test. This is not 5 percentage points but a 50/70 would go to a 55/70.
     
  13. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Okay, thanks chemteach for the advice. I think it's a good idea to make them analyze what went wrong. I am going to let them spend a whole period making corrections. They will have to make the correction and explain why it is that answer. The 5 points for all corrections sounds good. Do you give them 5 points only if they make ALL corrections?
     
  14. ddb23

    ddb23 Companion

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    I usually make test corrections on of their learning stations on the days they work in groups. They'll usually have about 15 minutes to make corrections. I don't review the tests as a whole class because I never found that to be effective. If the test was long, I just make the review 2 stations.

    My grades are based on a point system, so the extra credit never touches the actual test, it's just goes to their point total for the quarter. I usually make each correction worth 2 points. This is out of a 1000 point quarter so it's minimal. However, they think it's a lot so they put in the effort.


     
  15. Teacher2Be123

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    I think that if you do decide to do corrections you need to make them work for it. Like a previous poster said they need to earn that grade back. One of my currently professors allows us to do test corrections. However we have to rewrite the question, the correct answer, as well as what page in the book we found the answer on. We can gain up to 1/2 the points back that we lost. Those that want to better their score will take the time to improve it, those that don't care..well you probably won't get their test back.
     
  16. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Teacher2Be... good idea. I am going to have them write the section, and the number that they got wrong. They will have to write: ____________ is the correct answer because __________. For instance, 'haz is the correct answer because it means 'make' and it fits here because 'haz la cama' means 'make your bed'. I will give them 1/4 or 1/2 point for their correct answers which are written in an elaborate form. You are right in that only those that care to get the grade will make corrections. Those that do shoddy work will get no credit. I know some kids will just write the correct answer and expect to get points back... NOPE. I will make that clear.
     
  17. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Yes they must answer all sections of the test correction journal to get the 5 points. If you want a copy of it PM me your e-mail address and I will send it to you.
     
  18. RainStorm

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    My view may not be popular, but here it goes anyway. If the entire class
    then I would be more concerned about not having good classroom behavior management in place. If even your best students only got a C or a D, then something serious needs to be adjusted in the classroom atmosphere.

    Obviously, the students don't know the material. I would reteach and retest, but first, I would get the talking to minimum and get the students excited and focused on the material.
     
  19. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Rainstorm, you have a very valid point. Rather than reteaching and retesting.. which is ideal.. I am going to allow them to make corrections on their own. If they have questions.. they can ask.

    I am going to really start reprimanding those that are talking when I'm teaching. As for motivating kids and getting them excited/focused... I try... I really do. Most of these kids just simply do not care or do not want to put forth any effort. The frustrating part is that they are quick to blame me when their test scores reflect their inattention during the lessons.
     
  20. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    traeh, one thing you may not have considered. The test may be poorly written. If it is a book test, well likely it had vocabulary in it the kids may be unsure about. If you wrote it, it could be that you thought the question was more clear than it was. We all write tests like that sometimes. Go back over the test, have someone else look it over and be sure it isn't poorly written. I did that with a test almost everyone failed and I found that some of the answers were missing. I had reviewed the test several times before I gave it, but didnt' catch the error.

    If the test is fine, have them do the corrections as suggested, and do NOT teach if they are talking. They will just keep doing it and other students won't be able to follow what you are saying.
     
  21. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    wldywall--

    Funny that you say that because it is the first test I didn't make up myself, and I just took from the assessment book. I figured I'd try it out. The problem is that some of the words were different, as you said. I should have included a word bank for that part. For the other parts, I should have given a model example for each section to jog the students' memory a little bit. The lesson I've learned is never to use the book test exactly as is, ever again. The sad part is that the kids already took it and most failed. Hopefully they will learn from their corrections.

    As for the talking, I have two classes that are extremely chatty. My last two periods..go figure. Sometimes I have to stop/wait/stare repeatedly throughout the period. I am thinking of kicking out the really talkative ones and telling them to work on a packet out in the hall, because their behavior is interfering with everyone else's learning. What do you do when they just don't stop.. no matter how many times you halt the lesson to send them the message to do so?
     
  22. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I had a professor in college who told us if more than half the class missed a particular question, then that question wouldn't count as incorrect. Getting it right would be bonus points, but it wouldn't count against us if we got it wrong. Her theory on that was that if half the class couldn't get the information right, then either she obviously hadn't covered that material clearly enough, or the question was bad... and either way, it shouldn't count against us. At first I was going to suggest that... but sounds like you'd be throwing out most of the test that way!

    It sounds like you've got a good plan going with allowing corrections... and you learned something, too!
     
  23. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I had teachers/professors in high school and college that did this or some variation of it all the time. I think it gives you an idea of how hard the material is and how much studying is going on. One professor would ask us to anonymously write what grade we expected on an exam and how much time we spent studying.
     
  24. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Eventually you have to do more than just stop and wait/stare. You need to move to the next level in your discipline plan. That may be an after school or before school detention or it may be going to the principal's office but you can't do the same things over and over and expect to get different results. Also, it is never fair to let a few students disrupt the learning of the entire class. Try these articles for some ideas on class management: http://www.fredjones.com/Tools-for-Teaching/Tools-for-Teaching-main.html
     
  25. RainStorm

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    I wouldn't put them out in the hall with no supervision. If you can't send them someplace (principal or dean's office, ISS, dentention) then I'd find another way to deal with it. If they do something awful while they are in the hall (during your class) you are totally responsible because they are still under your supervision.

    Just recently we had a teacher put a child in the hall. The child wandered off, went into a classroom and stole a purse. Unsupervised students can get into all kinds of trouble. I wouldn't put myself in the position of having students I am legally responsible for supervising out of my sight.
     
  26. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Rainstorm.. very good point. Forget sending them out in the hall then. I'm going to have to devise an alternate plan. Funny how this thread led to the crux of the matter, which is the students' behavior issues and excessive talkativeness.

    I really feel like it's so late in the game (ie. 2 months left) to really do anything. I know that is such a defeatist attitude, but I feel like anything I do will not be taken seriously. I don't even know WHAT to do that will get them to stop talking. Obviously I can't send every kid down to the principal or their counselor, or I'd be sending half the class. At the beginning of the year I started giving out detentions for every person that spoke without raising their hand. This got their attention, but made the kids really hate me, AND I doubted myself too much to keep doing it.

    Does anyone have any ideas for getting kids to be quiet during instruction. Also, do you allow your kids to just call out, or must they raise their hand? How do you train them to raise their hand? Again, it's probably wayyyyy to late for this. Next year I have a new plan of attack (ie. making them raise their hand from the get-go). However, I need assistance to make it through these last 35-40 days or so. Thanks!
     
  27. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I am gladed you learned here, I personally do not allow my department to use textbook made tests alone, they must be supplemented (I say at least 50% book, 50% handmade). In 30 years of teaching I have seen low scores becuase of a poorly made test numerous times. To be honest, the blame for these low scores does fall on the students, but also falls on you becuase of how poorly written it was. Personally I would curve the scores.
     
  28. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Apr 22, 2008

    thanks brendan for the advice : )
     
  29. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I have had similar things happen and my approach to it is situational. Two recent situations:

    1) The whole class BOMBED the test. Only two people passed with C's, everybody else got D's or F's. Since there was a lot of not paying attention going on, my first instinct was to just let it ride, and let them live with the consequences of their inaction, but then I thought better of that. They still needed to learn the material, so what I did was write a second version of the test and allowed them to do it as a "take home" test. I also stayed after school one day so they could come in and ask questions on the material (suprisingly, over half the class showed up). I graded those tests as they were normal tests, then averaged the two grades together for a final grade for that "test". That still allowed many of them to pass the test, but also suffer consequences for not being prepared the first time around.

    2) I had a class do well on the majority of the test, but EVERYBODY did poorly on one concept. I totaled the points for that section and added it back to the raw score. I then re-taught that section and gave them a quiz on just that section. Overall, they did better on the quiz after just one classroom period focusing on that concept.
     
  30. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    Apr 22, 2008

    mmswm--

    I have encountered BOTH of those situations this year too. 1) is exactly like this last test. I ALSO thought of letting it ride (due to the fact that most weren't paying attn) and had the same realization as you... that it would negatively impact them in the long run considering they still need to learn the material. Instead of a retest (which is a good idea) I ended up having them make corrections in class today and at home. They must explain in elaborate detail why the correct answer is correct for 1/2 point back per question.

    Now for 2) in which you said you had a section on which the students performed poorly. When you say you took the points from that section and added it back into the raw score, do you mean that you canceled out those points until they took the quiz on that concept, and then you put the points earned on the quiz back into the test score?
     
  31. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    In chemistry and physics I have this situation happen all the time. Usually I will through out the concept on the test so the test would be worth less than originally and I would also re-teach and give a quiz on that single concept.
     
  32. Calliope

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    When faced with this situation, I have given another test over the same material. I keep the first test score, & let the other one factor in. Plus, I don't review for the second time around -- just tell them to study the guide from before & their last test.
     
  33. traeh

    traeh Companion

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    okay, that sounds good chemteach.

    I think I'm going to do that if that happens in the future with the 'one section'.
     
  34. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Basically what chemteach said. Do the percentage based on the "new" number of points, though sometimes that can hurt them because now each question is worth more weight. If I see that becomes a problem, then I redistrute the points on the other questions. This doesn't happen very often, so it's not a big deal to spend the time on it when it is a problem.
     

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