What Do You Think About Controversial Report Card Policies? | Science in the City

Apr 2, 2013

What Do You Think About Controversial Report Card Policies?

I don't know how your school does report cards.  My school district has 6 marking periods for report cards.  Each is approximately 6 weeks long. Most districts have 4 approximately 9-10 week marking periods.  This change was done before I started working there, for a number of reasons that I'm aware of:

  • With six marking periods, the need for interim (5 week) reports is gone.  We are suggested to send progress reports home, but its not required.
  • With six marking periods, kids will have a better chance of being successful (each marking period counts less).
We also have the restriction that no report card grades lower than a 50% can be given.  Even if a student has hardly shown up to class and has an average in the single digits earns a report card grade of 50%.  This is also to increase incentive for later in the year.  If a student has a 50% for a marking period or two, its not that difficult for them to still pass.  

Many people are frustrated with this policy.  I get it.  Some students honestly work and earn a 55%, or even a 50%.  What do our grades mean?  And what are we grading?  

This has given me a lot of room for thought on what we are grading.  I think there is a place, in a way, for this.  Students do still need room to be successful.  They can't go back and redo the earlier work, really, but if they are to pass a final exam they will still need to learn a lot of the content.   The final exam counts 25% of their grade for the course.  Many times, if they just squeak by, they don't pass the final.  But this policy gives them incentive to keep working for the rest of the year.  They don't give up, because they feel they can still pass.   It doesn't seem quite fair, but what is the alternative. 

Does your school have a similar policy?  What do you think about a minimum grade?  Do you agree or disagree. 

Many of the students in the district where I teach have a very difficult marking period because they have family members in jail, or they have to move because they have gotten evicted, etc.  How can they maintain the expectations of a "student" all the time? Is that a reasonable expectation on our part? 

When I was a first year teacher, and very frustrated over state test scores, another teacher who had been in the district a long time talked to me about how "they may just need to take the class twice to pass, they are learning a lot, but maybe need to see it again."   That has echoed in my head many times.  As frustrating as it is, we (and our students) sometimes need to take a longer range/bigger picture view, particularly in the face of adversity, and keep plugging away towards a goal, realizing that we have a long way to go and a lot setting us back. 

1 comment :

  1. Wow - very different from what we do. We send home reports once a term - 3 times a year. The first term has no grades, just goals for Math, Language and Topic work. The second term we average all our unit tests and then have end-of-term tests as well so the students get a cumulative average on their reports along with a year group average so their parents have an idea of how they are doing (they already know from conferences but this makes it official) The final term the same grade scheme is followed. We have no minimum grades - everything is reported as is so if someone gets 35% that will go on the report. I teach third grade and honestly I'm not sure how I feel about the grading. I prefer rubrics for as much class work as possible but that isn't really practical for a report - and the parents want marks. The only test I really care about is the National Curriculum test because a) it's a critical thinking test and b) it tells me how my students are performing on the UK national level. So far, every year, we've been right on target (in fact slightly above) so I'm happy :)



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