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    #168652 - 09/22/13 08:10 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: Dandy]
    ElizabethN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    I don't think that MoN is saying that the issue is actually disappointment with a grade, but that asking about how to bring a grade up may be an effective way to approach the teacher.

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    #168653 - 09/22/13 08:20 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: ColinsMum]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4292
    Originally Posted By: ColinsMum
    ... do consider, and encourage your son to consider, the possibility that this teacher knows exactly what she's doing. Did I understand correctly that the higher weighted Maps task is for work done in class? She might well feel that it should be highly weighted because, being done under her eye, it is a much better gauge of what children can really do, as opposed to what gets done in an uncontrolled environment where help may be available. She may be right.

    I know people tend to think of a high grade as a reward for work done, but really it's "supposed" to be a measure of what's been learned. If someone does 200 hours of homework which attracts no grade credit at all, but helps them learn the material, and then is given a grade for what they show they can do in a 2 hour exam, that isn't intrinsically unfair - also, it's what much of the world does! - even though it may be unexpected.

    Indeed, a move towards such a system may be what's needed to give schools the freedom to stop giving kids so much useless homework and to let them let kids have the freedom to do what will help them learn rather than what will garner immediate marks. It may be hard to do all at once, but downweighting homework is a possible step towards it. A clumsy one, admittedly - if this were the intention it would be better to introduce more freedom into the homework at the same time, also to explain the rationale. Still, it would be a pity to reinforce teachers' feelings that they can't do this.

    I second this message. This teacher's policy and practice may be grading student work based on their ability to apply the learned information on demand in the classroom where the teacher can be certain that parents, paid tutors, or friends are not helping earn the grade.

    I will add that (right or wrong) there is a common notion that parents who complain about student grades have too much skin in the game, possibly seeing the grade as reflective of themselves and depriving the student the sense of ownership of his/her grades.

    The fact that the weighted grading is posted proactively and all have access to the information, then it is intrinsically fair, even though some may not agree with it.

    Less fair and equal, but considered "equitable" by some, would be the practice of letting select students know the date of the heavily-weighted in-class activity possibly even providing a study sheet to select students, while withholding this information from other students.

    Looking ahead a bit, be aware that college admittance and acceptance may also vary widely. It may be unduly influenced by a high school providing negative information about a parent (whether accurate or inaccurate).

    You may want to think long-term and let this go. If your son decides to talk to the teacher about this, he may want to open by demonstrating an understanding of what the teacher may be trying to accomplish: "I've been doing my homework and learning the material, but I made a careless error on the in-class map assignment which I see is worth a much larger part of my grade. Is there some extra credit I can do to bring up my grade?"

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    #168657 - 09/22/13 09:44 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: Dandy]
    Quantum2003 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/08/11
    Posts: 1425
    I sympathize but I don't believe any good can come from you approachng the teacher, especially since it is likely that from the teacher's perspective the first quarter is sort of a learning experience so that your DS will have the opportunities to be more careful with the 85% in-class work in general and the 30% map work in particular. High school is quite different from elementary school and it is typical for homework to only count 10% to 15%. It is also not uncommon to have certain categories to only have a couple of assignments. Your situation has happened to my special needs high school DS a few times over the years, but after very careful thought I have always chosen not to advocate. More than half the time, the grades correct themselves for the semester or year. Even though I already have to helicopter my special needs DS, I really did not want to offend the teachers when objectively, their positions were defensible even if arguablly tough on the students.

    On the upside, I think this could be a great learning experience for your DS. One of my other child (DS10) ended up receiving his only B last year in health but I think he learned to be more careful. The grade was based only on in-class assignments and there were only about 5 or 6 assignments; he had a solid A average on all the assignments except for one assigment where he forgot to turn over the page to answer the last essay question. After the assignment came back, he even redid the assignment by answering the question he left out and turned it in to the teacher again because sometimes kids are allowed to redo assignments. Unfortunately, the teacher would not accept his redo because he did not actually failed the assignment due to acing the first page. DS was disappointed because his twin had straight A's but it was a valuable lesson that has taught him to take more care with his work. DS is rather the absent-mnded professor at times but he is not 2E so I didn't feel that he was entitled to special consideration.

    I apologize if this isn't what you want to hear. If you do want to confront the teacher, your best preparation will be to consider the situation from the teacher's perspective so you won't be caught off-guard by whatever he says. By the way, I think it would be acceptable for your DS to approach the teacher and express his disappointment in missing an A by one percentage point and request help/strategy in earning an A for the semester.

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    #168661 - 09/22/13 10:30 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: Quantum2003]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4292
    Originally Posted By: Quantum2003
    ... he even redid the assignment by answering the question he left out and turned it in to the teacher again because sometimes kids are allowed to redo assignments. Unfortunately, the teacher would not accept his redo because he did not actually failed the assignment due to acing the first page.
    Ugh! This is one of the policies which may be unfair/unequal but which some consider "equitable": allowing only those students performing below a certain threshold to re-do work, while students performing above that threshold who may wish to improve their grade are denied access to the re-do opportunity.

    Re-do policies, depending upon how they are implemented in practice, may provide a sense of legitimacy to essentially falsifying student level of performance.

    Regarding do-over policy or practice, parents may wish to know:
    1) How is grading assigned?
    - For example, does the redo grade replace the original grade?
    - Is the assigned grade an average of the original work and the rework?
    2) Who has access to the redo opportunity?
    - Everyone who wishes to repeat the exercise?
    - Only select individuals?
    --- Is selection determined by a consistent set of criteria, such as a cut score? If so, what is the cut score?
    --- Do any other selection criteria apply?
    3) Is the policy clearly documented? Is it selectively implemented on the fly?

    Does the student who was originally failing (or below a specific threshold) ultimately receive a grade of 100% based on a redo, while a student who originally scored 96% is denied a redo and retains the grade of 96% entered into the gradebook?

    I've heard of policies like this used to considerably raise the GPA of marginal performers. By the end of high school selective access to redo opportunities which offer grade replacement may push selected students to the upper reaches of class rank while the GPA of consistent high performers may be comparatively lower. Colleges and universities may get an inaccurate picture of students' level of performance.

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    #168663 - 09/22/13 10:42 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: Dandy]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    I concur, Indigo.

    That kind of "redo" policy drives me batty.

    Also the sorts of policies where kids who are 90% and up get no "extra credit" opportunities.

    It may well be something about social studies in particular, frankly-- this is the area where DD and I have had the most angst through middle and high school. The teachers seriously don't seem to understand some of the quirky-- frankly INSANE-- things that these all-up-front, category weighted gradebooks can lead to. And if you try to point it out, they (truly) don't understand how the math works.

    No way is it pedagogically defensible that a two page essay on a final exam has less impact on a student's graded performance than a single sentence during a class bulletin board discussion. But we've seen that kind of thing happen.

    Sometimes a total throwaway assignment (frankly) is worth MORE than major assessments. That's what I mean by "pedagogically indefensible" by the way-- not what Colinsmum is addressing, but the distribution to begin with. That's like basing an advanced algebra grade mostly on proper selection of variables on a particular homework set. While it may be there in black and white on the gradebook/rubric right from the start, the larger problem is... is that REALLY what they intend for the course grade to be about?? crazy

    And really, how anyone can be confused about "My grade in this course is an A and not an A+ because I earned 9/10 on this rubric-based thing which was INTENDED to be a ten-minute assignment... and I have otherwise got a 99% in this course"??

    But that was the point at which I encouraged DD to just stop worrying about it if her grade was still being averaged into her GPA as an A. Because the answer, apparently, was that she should be "proud of her exceptional performance-- an A is extraordinary in an honors course in light of her age." She had taken the term project and turned in a veritable COLLEGE level paper and presentation on the subject, which was one no other student chose (because of the challenge of locating primary source material). She offered to do an essay on any topic of his choosing-- for the ONE extra credit point she needed in the class.

    The answer was still no. (Though this same teacher allowed "retakes" of exams for failing students and marginal ones.)



    Oh, also reiterating that this kind of silliness can be completely irrational, but it is always better if students manage the approach themselves. (At the high school level, I mean.)

    Good luck. DD has had the most luck with "I'm concerned that {assignment/category] isn't representative of my mastery of the course materials."


    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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    #168667 - 09/22/13 11:20 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: HowlerKarma]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4292
    Quote:
    is that REALLY what they intend for the course grade to be about
    Unfortunately, it may be. Parents need to be alert to the ways in which the educational system is being tuned and used as a tool to change our society into one in which all are conditioned to perform at a designated level and pace, foregoing individual performance review for assigned work-group review.

    Weighting compliance with a required behavior (such as posting one sentence on an online discussion board) more heavily than demonstrated mastery of academics may be accidental, incidental, coincidental, or it could be part of an overall pattern. Ushered in by Common Core, extensive data collection is logging details about individuals, including students. When students access online assignments, their IP address may be recorded. Educational institutions may activate the video cam and microphone, making observations into the home or study environment. The American Community Survey of the US Census requires individuals to provide information about various computer and communications devices in the home, including the mode and means of accessing the internet.

    While there is an emerging trend, among teachers and schools there is wide variance in adopting such measures so depending upon local norms some parents may recognize this occurring and others may not.

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    #168668 - 09/22/13 11:31 AM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: Dandy]
    22B Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/10/13
    Posts: 1228
    When I was a kid, a friend of mine in a different school (a private school, where unfairness of grading was not a topic students could bring up) told me how his class had a test marked out of 150 points. To convert the score to percentage, the teacher divided scores over 100 by 2, and left the rest the same. In other words 140/150 counted as 70%, while 90/150 counted as 90%.

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    #168685 - 09/22/13 01:15 PM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: ColinsMum]
    Dandy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/12/08
    Posts: 574
    Originally Posted By: ColinsMum
    ...do consider, and encourage your son to consider, the possibility that this teacher knows exactly what she's doing. Did I understand correctly that the higher weighted Maps task is for work done in class? She might well feel that it should be highly weighted because, being done under her eye, it is a much better gauge of what children can really do, as opposed to what gets done in an uncontrolled environment where help may be available. She may be right.


    In what little I've read so far about weighting, I see the reduced relative importance placed on homework because a.) teachers want kids to feel free to try different approaches and make mistakes, and/or b.) teachers are worried about cheating, and don't want a grade helped too much by that. (Silly me -- I didn't even think of the cheating component... I obviously lead a sheltered life.)

    But I do understand the greater importance given to assessments, and really don't have any problem with that at all.

    In this case, the Maps assignments weren't terribly difficult, and actually seemed simpler in some respects than the map-related components of homework. If the issue is that of Tests/Quizzes vs, Homework, then these three map assignments should have been lumped in with the Tests/Quizzes, which is also worth 30%.

    If the three Map grades are lumped in with Tests/Quizzes (which would be my suggestion), then his A in Tests/Quizzes is still solid enough -- and with a large enough point total -- to absorb the 8/10 on the three Map items and still leave him with an A. But when the 8/10 in Maps is worth 30% along side the 30% given to the 150/160 in Tests... Gaaahhh! It just doesn't seem reasonable.
    _________________________
    Being offended is a natural consequence of leaving the house. - Fran Lebowitz

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    #168695 - 09/22/13 02:20 PM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: HowlerKarma]
    Dandy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/12/08
    Posts: 574
    Wow. This place is phenomenal.

    I didn't really know what kind of help I needed... or what I was hoping to hear. But the variety of perspectives and suggestions have helped me to better understand the issues and options.

    I truly believe that the teacher just didn't consider the weighted categories very carefully and that he might not fully comprehend the affect on the overall grading system.

    In agreement with one common sentiment, I don't want this to be about my son's grade, which is why I want to mention it well before the semester... regardless of which of us brings it to the teacher. (And the more I read here, I think having him talk to the teacher is best.)

    Yes, the teacher had the category weights in the syllabus at the beginning of the year. But the mere publicizing of what turns out to be a nonsensical strategy doesn't make it any less nonsensical, nor should any parent be prevented from calling attention to the mathematical problem when it surfaces. No reasonable person would expect three small assignments to be able to outweigh both a solid homework and solid assessment component. If there were a similar volume of work associated with the Map category, then I would be much less bothered by what I view as a careless decision.

    (And, yes, most definitely, I do not want to earn a negative reputation as being one of those parents!)

    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    No way is it pedagogically defensible that a two page essay on a final exam has less impact on a student's graded performance than a single sentence during a class bulletin board discussion.
    [. . .]
    And really, how anyone can be confused about "My grade in this course is an A and not an A+ because I earned 9/10 on this rubric-based thing which was INTENDED to be a ten-minute assignment... and I have otherwise got a 99% in this course"??

    I've got to work out a much less confrontational version of this that my son can comfortably wrap his mind around.
    "WTH?? Are you high???" just doesn't set the right tone, and I realize that.

    Originally Posted By: HowlerKarma
    Good luck. DD has had the most luck with "I'm concerned that {assignment/category] isn't representative of my mastery of the course materials."
    Looking back at the last few years, I think that I've required my son to tackle anything to do with grades, tests, assignments, etc., explaining that he needed to hone the skill while in M.S. where the grades didn't count like they do in H.S. I think he's developed a perfectly non-confrontational approach along the way.

    [FWIW: Playing with the numbers is intriguing. Losing those two points on Maps has the same effect on his overall grade as if he'd simply chucked a full 60 points of his homework (40%) into the toilet or scored 30 points lower (20%) on his tests, neither of which seems fair/equitable/reasonable to me.]

    So a hearty thanks to all... I'll certainly share the results. And in the meantime, I've forwarded your emails to my new Nigerian friend instructing her to split the money evenly with all of you!
    _________________________
    Being offended is a natural consequence of leaving the house. - Fran Lebowitz

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    #168698 - 09/22/13 02:48 PM Re: Weighted Grades [Re: Dandy]
    Dandy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/12/08
    Posts: 574
    I would have been absolute toast if my parents had access to the online grading & attendance system... but as a parent, it is such a wonderful tool.

    [I think that "obsessively checking" might be a little strong, but if those danged teachers would just update grades more often & reliably, I wouldn't *have* to check so much!]

    Originally Posted By: master of none
    We are close to high school, not there yet, and I'm interested to see just how easy those As are.
    We're friends with the families of two out of three recent valedictorians and they definitely were not slackers. Some classes like Health, PE, Band just require a reliable heartbeat to get an A, but the Honors & AP courses are known to be tough, and not just in terms of volume.

    Originally Posted By: master of none
    I just wish that colleges didn't care so much about those high averages so that students didn't feel the pressure to push for every point.
    There's definitely been a shift, at least at the UC schools to which I applied. My GPA & SAT scores (far too dismal to share) wouldn't even get me on the front lawn were I applying today... not even close. So, really, the kids don't have much choice but to watch & protect their grades closely if they really want to go to college. (Think of the Tiger progeny they are up against for those slots!)

    In addition to being constantly (ok, maybe obsessively) aware of the grades, the online system has brought to the surface blatant errors related to attendance and grading that would have been very difficult to ferret out back in the day. Assignments errantly marked "missing" are much easier to tackle immediately after a grade is posted, rather than trying to figure out the mysterious low grade on the report card weeks or months later. I've been amazed at the number of simple errors made by teachers that would have resulted in a big problem if not caught & corrected.
    _________________________
    Being offended is a natural consequence of leaving the house. - Fran Lebowitz

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