November 7, 2012

Quarter 1 Grades

Our quarter ended last week so teachers have to put grades and comments into the computer system by 3 pm tomorrow. Happily, I got mine done already. I spent a lot of time at school (until 5 pm yesterday and today) to accomplish that, but it's done!

The new MA evaluation system includes SMART goals and requires all teachers to make a student goal and a professional goal that are data driven. I was able to make my professional goal parent communication via postcards (which was one of my goals for the year anyway), but my SBG goal didn't fly since I don't have data to compare from last year. I was talking to the other teachers after school today and now it looks like our goal might be to try to get the numbers of D's and F's under a certain percentage. We have yet to determine that percentage, which leads me to wonder: what are the grade distributions in your classes?

This is my first time with honors in this school and I'm loving having class averages in the 80's!  I have 1 F and 4 D's out of 38 kids in those classes. My Geometry classes aren't as good though, the averages are 59, 71 and 76 (not including the 5 incompletes!). They have 33, 31 and 21% F's and 17, 15 and 11% D's (respectively).  Perhaps the first goal should be under 20% in both those categories?  Or, if we excluded students who have excessive absences then we could aim even higher (lower?).  Our policy is generally to move kids who get A's up a level, which is great because students are always in a class that's challenging for them. But I wonder if having 3 levels of Geometry is part of why I end up with so few students getting A's and even B's - they get bumped up out of my classes and into the honors (I have 2 fundamentals and 1 regular, the regular class is the one with the highest average).

Regardless of what my goal ends up being, I'm happy because I know that Standards Based Grading is helping my students.  In the last week, all of my class averages went up by 6-7% except the class that was already in the 80's and they still went up 2%.  This doesn't happen without effort on the part of the students: they are learning, going back and correcting their mistakes and misconceptions, and taking advantage of the opportunity to show me what they've accomplished.  Between retakes and resubmitted projects I had a lot of grading to do, but I'm happy to do it because it means my students are still engaged in learning even after I've returned an assignment- with the typical system that's just not the case.  I use comment only grading for projects and SBG for tests and quizzes.  Together those categories make 80% of their grade.  My students know that what I really care about is what they know, not how fast they know it.  Now if I could just get that last bit of buy in from the students I haven't reached yet (it would help if I could eliminate poverty, teen pregnancy, difficult family situations and many years of believing they can't do math...).

But, back to my original question: what are the grade distributions like in your classes?  What would be a reasonable goal for our lowest level geometry classes?

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