Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Darkening Bubbles on the Report Card Scantron

You’d think I have enough going on in my classroom and my school (Finishing the UFT paperwork, looking into an order of protection.) that I wouldn’t have other fish to fry.

I’ve been getting slammed with paperwork, report cards and I had my first observation (more on that atrocity later on, I promise) and tomorrow is parent-teacher night. Oh jeez…when it rains it pours!

So report cards came out pretty creatively. Only two students out of thirteen were passing any of my classes based on test, journal, and project grades (I teach ELA, Biology, Global Studies, and Music to my homeroom class.) What was I going to do, fail 80% of my class? Mind you, for the most part I like my students…warts and all. And I think if I gave them all F’s for all of their classes there would be a mutiny and these delicate individuals would give up completely on their studies.

I ended up asking around the school, trying to get a temperature of the school culture and found out that effort gets you really far in my school, and that grading is pretty subjective. So I took a good, hard look at each student, and the work they did in each of the classes I taught, and ended up passing most of my morning ELA class. It’s usually the first class of the day, and the students usually hand in something, which is way better than the circus you’d catch if you stopped by my Biology class after lunch. I figure a D in ELA is supportive and can be scaffolded with effort on the part of the student into a golden C. D’s can be wake-up calls, without filling the students with apathy. Hell, a D might be good enough for a student that the kid will do just a little bit more work in order to maintain that passing grade. Or at least I hope. And it looks better on the report card than a row of F’s.

Do you remember back when you were in school, and you may have had that teacher you felt took special glee in giving you bad grades on your report card? I have to admit I felt the lure of that power. A few of my students really know how to push my buttons, and it would have felt so good (for about 30 seconds) to fail them. While I was staring at those little bubble sheets I was really tempted to not be gentle with my kids and their grades. I can only admit to those vindictive feelings because I didn’t act on them. And as a reward I got to witness the shock and chagrin on the faces of my students when they found out that my school doesn’t hand report cards to students, but rather mails them directly to parents. I had quite a few kids in whirling tizzies over that.


Anonymous Schoolgal said...

Grading is hard, but as long as you have the proof to back it up.
Remember when meeting with parents and writing comments to begin with a positive comment and a smile.

"Mark has so much potential, and I feel that his violent behavior will not help him succeed in life.
Prehaps we can work together to come up with a plan that will help Mark improve...(how does jail time sound?")

Observations are also not easy. Usually when one goes bad, a decent administrator will give you the chance to do another lesson and not count the first one.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006 2:02:00 PM  
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Saturday, November 11, 2006 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger sailorman said...

I'm a bit confused as to why you would count "effort". Are you sure that your grade inflation isn't doing the kids a disservice? Allowing the school to perpetuate the myth that they're getting educated ("They're not failing, right?") and so on?

Monday, November 13, 2006 6:44:00 AM  

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