Oh golly geez (yeah I really say that). Had a meeting yesterday with teachers from one of our feeder pattern schools (the elementary schools my students attend before coming to us). The purpose was to discuss procedures and find ways to transition the students better. One thing we talked about was the kids not caring about classwork/homework. The teachers told us the kids knew if they did not do it it would not mess up their grade too much. Um what?! What they proceeded to tell us has kept me up all night. BUT it answered A LOT of questions.
They told us that classwork/homework/projects are only worth up to 20% of grade for each subject. The other 80% is on assessment/tests. Yep tests. Assessments on reading levels/math levels etc. How on Earth could you teach if you had to give this many test?!
This explains so much. My class grades are only 20% based on tests/assessments while the other 80% is on projects, classwork, participation in discussion, etc. It takes me the first 9 weeks just to get the students to do this 80%. They could care less about finishing work. I usually do not even grade for correctness, I mostly focus on whether or not they follow the learning process. Getting them to do this is like pulling teeth. Eventually they have an “Ah-Ha” moment and begin to participate in class. Classwork has never amounted to much for them, but now it is what determines most of their grade.
Another issue I usually have is the parents and students freaking out about tests. They are very demanding my study guides go home a week before tests. The kids also panic when they score low on a test. They automatically think they will fail.
I could not imagine spending so much time on activities in class and they could for only 1% or less for a grade. Why can’t observation of learning not be the most important. What is point of allowing students to discover/think/solve if only facts and processes count. What is more important, a student knowing multiplication facts or a student who can discover the formula for a graph or pattern?
I find this so messed up. It is not the teacher’s fault. Their “coaches” have required grades to weigh in this manner. BUT this information does help me to know where my students are coming from. This is why everything taught is questioned “Will this be on test?” or “Will this count?” Next year I know where to start. I have an understanding of where they are coming from and will start off immediately reminding students how important my class really is.
There are too many ways to assess student learning beyond tests. Memorizing facts should not be the only way.