Monday, May 01, 2006

Who's failing who?

What does it mean when a large number of students fail a teacher's class? Does it mean teacher ineptitude?
What do teachers do when this information is made public to the rest of the faculty:
"Every teacher interviewed talked about the intense pressure she felt to increase her students' scores. The majority of teachers, in discussing this pressure, spoke emotionally about an annual faculty meeting at which a chart was revealed that listed each teacher's pass rate next to her name. In other words, a competitive economy where the sole currency was test scores was established within the confines of the school. It was a competition of which teachers were painstakingly aware."

If the purpose is to allow those teachers who are successful (AP, Honors, teachers who don't hold to the curriculum, teachers with low expectations and standards), will this benefit the teachers who are not successful?
For instance, I wonder what the AP and Honors teachers would say about this recent statistic from one of my classes:
17 of 33 Failing
21 of 33 recently DID NOT TURN IN A 100 POINT ESSAY (5 Paragraphs and week to write it.)
20 of 33 recently DID NOT TURN IN A 100 POINT DOUBLE ENTRY JOURNAL (These students had three weeks to read the book, were regularly reminded to keep up on it; in fact, given time in class to work on it.)
What valuable piece of teaching skill have I failed to acquire? Allowing late work? Yes, but that is because of lesson I learned a while back. You see, I DID NOT PAY MY INSURANCE BILL ON TIME, the insurance company had the audacity to drop my coverage! Incredulous.

9 Comments:

At 8:01 AM , Blogger jg said...

I feel the same pressure although not put on me by the administration but more by the parents. It has become unacceptable for students to not pass a class regardless of whether or not they did the work. No wonder grade inflation is running rampant.

 
At 12:34 PM , Blogger graycie said...

After each report card, we recive an analysis of our grades: how many As, Bs, etc. and the percentage of each. I have always gone through my D and F grades to see what caused them -- with very very few exceptions, the Ds and Fs in my classes are earned bykids who either do not come to class or who do not participate or turn in work. I document all of this: attendance and who works and who doesn't.

Some of us share our percentages. I do to see if there is a tendency 'across the board' that causes the low grades -- often there is.

 
At 7:17 PM , Blogger History Dude aka Mr. D said...

This is a huge problem for my kids. Many simply refuse to do any work at all. My daily assignments are simple. An easy A or B. I got called on the carpet at the end of last semester because my failure rate was too high, 40%. My AP said if my failure rate was too high it was because I was "not teaching." I took that as a challenge and went through the grades of every student who failed my class. Only 2 kids failed only my class. The other 30 (92%) failed at least 1 or more classes, most failed 3 or 4, some 5 classes. Other teachers assigned a 70 for a passing grade. Which means they should have failed, but were given a couple extra points to pass. I hate taking late work but have to to keep even more from failing. For many of the kids I e-mailed their AP and counsoler to have a parent/teacher/AP meeting to no avail. With that many kids failing mulitple subjects it looks like I'm not the only teacher "not teaching". So IS IT the teacher or the student???

 
At 9:09 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

There is so much truth to what we've all shared. The part that irritates me is that so many onlookers will assume we are not teaching. Hey, I am not flawless as a teacher. I wish I were better in areas, but at some point, students have to look at themselves and say the same thing.

 
At 9:24 AM , Blogger graycie said...

". . . at some point, students have to look at themselves and say the same thing . . ." Not just students. How many parents get report cards and interim reports and phone calls and letters (about multiple classes) and it's like throwing rocks in a pond -- the rocks just disappear into the murk.

 
At 10:13 AM , Blogger Ms Otto said...

In my class, I have begun to call students' attention to the correlation between practice work (modified Frayer boxes, flashcards, etc.) and their scores on their weekly vocabulary quizzes: a) after each quiz, they have a graph in their binders where they have to chart their quiz score, and then the daily journal/write-to-learn is "reflect upon how you studied and your quiz score"... and, b) every few weeks, I take a look at the grade book, and average the quiz scores of the kids who DID turn in the practice work and the scores of the kids who DID NOT turn in the work... then, in black and white, I can show my kids that the average quiz score of kids who do the practice work is (usually) about 85%, which the average score of kids who don't do the work is (usually) about 63%... it doesn't convince them all, but it has converted some. If you'd like my templates, shoot me an email at wendyotto@hotmail.com :) Happy Friday!

 
At 10:13 AM , Blogger Ms Otto said...

In my class, I have begun to call students' attention to the correlation between practice work (modified Frayer boxes, flashcards, etc.) and their scores on their weekly vocabulary quizzes: a) after each quiz, they have a graph in their binders where they have to chart their quiz score, and then the daily journal/write-to-learn is "reflect upon how you studied and your quiz score"... and, b) every few weeks, I take a look at the grade book, and average the quiz scores of the kids who DID turn in the practice work and the scores of the kids who DID NOT turn in the work... then, in black and white, I can show my kids that the average quiz score of kids who do the practice work is (usually) about 85%, which the average score of kids who don't do the work is (usually) about 63%... it doesn't convince them all, but it has converted some. If you'd like my templates, shoot me an email at wendyotto@hotmail.com :) Happy Friday!

 
At 7:51 PM , Anonymous Dana Huff said...

Wow, I got called on the carpet when I taught middle school for the high failure rate I had. I was told it was the highest in the school. My expectations, alas were too high. I expected students to turn in their work. Preferably on time, but late was OK within about three days. I'm not sure what more I could have done aside from do it for them or fudge the grades.

At my current school, I am learning that I need to raise my standards. It's been hard, because at first I was just so shocked that all my students worked. It has taken some time, but I think I'm getting the hang of it!

 
At 8:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a parent with a sophomore son who is generally an A/B student. He is currently failing a class. Last cardmarking, he received a C in the class, at parent conferences the teacher said he was doing fine, missing a few assignments, his biggest problem was he did poorly on a project. We talked with our son and made it clear that his grade needed to improve. We were shocked to see on the midquarter that the grade fell to failing. I'm not making excuses for my son - he obviously did not work hard enough. He's bright, but was lazy in this class. At this point, what can I, as a parent do? This will majorly impact his college acceptances, his remaining years have no flexibility to retake a class. Is it wrong or unfair of me to ask the teacher for make-up work to try and bring up his grade? My son has been disciplined - many, many luxuries removed, we are checking his assignments, etc. But, between the conferences and the mid-quarter, we received no indication that he was failing. We've never encountered this situation before, he has always been a good student. Any advice would be appreciated.

 

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