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Mid semester grades continued…

October 12, 2011

Over at Quantum Progress today there was some great discussion about SBG and mid semester grades. Namely, how do you prevent these two notions from stepping on each other’s toes? I started off with:

“I’m getting into the same boat in the next couple of weeks. My kids have access to ActiveGrade, they know exactly where they stand, but I’m required to put an A through F letter grade. What am I to do with the kids who haven’t mastered a handful of Core objectives? I need to double check my school’s software but I think I can enter comments along with the mid semester grades. I’m hoping to write up a paragraph blurb about my grading practices and tag it on to the grades that go home. I think I’ve got a vibe going with my kids and parents that they’ll mostly get what’s going on. It helps that my school only ends up sending off year end grades to colleges, so there’s some built in structure to the “this grade doesn’t matter” argument. But I’m still two weeks out, perhaps the grade-grubbing toxins won’t be released for a little while yet.

One of my big concerns is my seniors in AP Physics. For most of them their college applications will include a transcript with a copy of this mid semester grade. How do I want to treat core standards when there’s been pretty limited time for growth and mastery?…I can tell I have more to say about this, but it’ll have to wait until after dinner.”

Before I indeed went and got some dinner. I’d like to expand on it now, as the issue of dealing with seniors in AP is particularly pertinent to me right now. What do I do with the kids who really should be pulling an A, but for some silly reason, aren’t? If I give them the benefit of the doubt will they end up showing me an effort that supports that? I got burned by some bad experiences with this last year and I don’t want to repeat that.

On the one hand I want to hold my students accountable for their performance and their efforts to date. If you can’t get your act together, I’m telling Snooty College X that you’re a B student. Hold the line. Stern scowls for all.

On the other hand, I know that these kids are swamped by college applications. Some of my AP kids are applying to over a dozen pretty competitive schools. They’re stressed. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and report what I suspect they’ll end up with.

Any solution other than the obvious find the happy medium that I hope exists somewhere between and do my best to do my best…Unsatisfyingly vague.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 13, 2011 3:36 am

    This is a really hard issue. I know Brian Carpenter at Non Inertial Teaching deals with this as well. My main thought as a former college counselor is colleges respond well to detailed comments with specific anecdotes. So if you can pass those along with grades, it will certainly be better than grades alone.

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