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Grades due

October 16, 2007 pm31 3:30 pm

Six times a year I submit grades. Tomorrow will be the first time, this year.

Why so frequently? Growing up, we had 4 report cards each year. That’s one about every 9 weeks. But with 6 a year, that’s one every 6 weeks. I find myself squeezing in extra tests, so that I can have two to average. And constantly filling in grade reports (glad we got rid of the scan sheets).

Why 6? In New York City, most of us time our first report to be close to parent teacher conferences. The parents come in with the first report card, and we talk. Could we do it otherwise? Sure. Do regulations require 6 report cards per year? I am pretty sure they don’t.

We’ve grumbled quietly about the frequency of the marking periods for year. This year, I think we’ll try to talk seriously in our school about some options… Maybe there are some disadvantages, but right about now, going for 4 longer marking periods sounds pretty sensible to me.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2007 pm31 10:20 pm 10:20 pm

    My oldest started HS this year and I think he gets 8 report cards each year, though half of them are progress reports which don’t give numeric results, just canned comments. While they might be useful to flag problems or something, from my point of view, the report we just received was “virtually content-free” with canned comments such as ” has a good work ethic” or ” pays attention and participates in class” etc. Fine, but it doesn’t tell him what he wants to know (is he on track for the level of honor roll he is aiming for?) and doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know either. I suppose it is the cases where it does say something unexpected that it is useful. At least with the canned comments it doesn’t put as much pressure on the teachers to have a sufficient number of pieces of graded work already, though I must say that it sure seems like my son has had a lot. But our school is on a semester system, which makes a big difference.

  2. Miss Teacher permalink
    October 17, 2007 am31 12:19 am 12:19 am

    I was at a school where they 2 marking periods per semester, and now I teach at a school with 3 marking periods per semester…I like it a lot better. Yeah…I have to do more data entry, but I feel like it motivates the kids and me to get my grades in and done fast.

  3. October 17, 2007 am31 1:54 am 1:54 am

    It is interesting that we have to get grades in but we still have oversized classes and kids are still being moved around. The only thing the system cares about is looking good on paper.

  4. October 17, 2007 am31 3:07 am 3:07 am

    Do any of you work with a system like PowerSchool, Pinnacle Viewer or Infinite Campus, etc. where students and parents can log in and see the student’s grades to date, at any time? If so how do you like it? I have a lot of e-friends whose kids’ schools use such systems, and they all really like it. I was wondering how it was from a teacher’s point of view.

  5. October 17, 2007 am31 3:33 am 3:33 am

    Mathmom, we use My Grade Book (it sounds similar). I like it for the most part. Some parents expect it to be updated daily, which can cause problems. However, contractually we’re only required to update it 8 times per year (I do it about per week – two weeks at most. Unless there is a test/major grade, then it is sooner). This can cause problems such as teacher x updates every 3 days, why don’t you?

  6. Henry Funes permalink
    October 17, 2007 am31 4:03 am 4:03 am

    It is interesting what the kids think about getting so many report cards. In failing schools many simply don’t care. In fact for years I have heard students say that the first and second marking periods don’t count! Others belive only the last marking period is important and they show up with 6 weeks left to the semester or the school year expecting to “make up” work and pass. This attitude is encouraged by adminstrators when the student is set to graduate.

    This the view from the lower depths.

  7. October 17, 2007 am31 5:27 am 5:27 am

    Jackie, the parents I’ve talked to seem to be used to it being updated daily (or whenever a new grade is recorded). If the teachers are using this as their primary grade book, that makes sense — why record it twice? If you are grading things more often than ever 2 weeks, why not update the online grade book as you go?

  8. October 17, 2007 am31 7:04 am 7:04 am

    Ahh, because I’m also required to keep a PAPER GRADE BOOK that I turn in at the end of the year. Also, I only have time to update online when I’m at home. When I’m in class, I don’t want to be on the laptop entering grades.

  9. October 17, 2007 am31 9:24 am 9:24 am

    gee, Jackie, that seems silly and redundant to me. :-/
    Perhaps they could print out your online grade book.
    Do you do grading in class? I would have guessed most grading would be done at home when you could easily update an online grade book.
    (Not criticizing, just curious)

  10. October 17, 2007 am31 9:24 am 9:24 am

    Some of our teachers use on-line-available grading systems. I don’t. And I do my best to make sure that no one pressures teachers in our school to do so.

    I am concerned that using an on-line system sets an expectation of immediacy that is unrealistic.

    For me, a piece of graded work is its own primary record; the test exists, in the student’s binder, with grade (and with the actual work that earned the grade, my comments, etc.). My grading system is transparent (very easy to calculate).

    And in fact, we do get the occasional parent question directed to why we don’t all use on-line systems, but I’ve never had it directed at me in particular. I consider those requests, along with requests for weekly progress reports, to fall in the category of nuisance requests. Some parents should talk with their kids more about school.

  11. October 17, 2007 pm31 5:57 pm 5:57 pm

    For me, a piece of graded work is its own primary record; the test exists, in the student’s binder, with grade (and with the actual work that earned the grade, my comments, etc.). My grading system is transparent (very easy to calculate).

    This is true for my son’s math teacher as well. But for his history teacher, it has never been made clear how tests, quizzes and other graded pieces of work are weighted relative to one another, minor pieces of work are graded with things like check-plus-minus which translates to a range of grades, and which we have no idea how they are averaged, and apparently a “participation” grade is also included in the final grade. So… my kid has a clue how he is doing (as do I), but that’s within probably +/- 5 points or so, so a pretty wide range. An online system (or outline from the teacher) making this more transparent would be appreciated by my son, who wants to know more precisely than that.

    His computer teacher grades their work every class, but doesn’t tell the kids what their grade was, so he has very little information on how he’s doing in that class other than the one test they had.

    (fwiw, our school does offer every-other-week reports for parents who request them. It would seem like it would be easier for teachers and benefit more students if they just went to an online grading system once they’re doing that, though I have no clue how many parents request them.)

    Assuming teachers didn’t have a retarded requirement to keep a paper grade book separate from the online one, I don’t really see how being expected to keep one’s grades in an online grade book creates an unrealistic expectation of immediacy. I wouldn’t expect work to be graded any faster, but I would expect it to be entered into the online grade book right away when it was, just the same as I assume that teachers now record them right away in their paper grade books.

    This of course would require that sufficient numbers of computers be available to teachers in the places where they would be grading work and entering grades normally. Perhaps that is the rub?

  12. October 18, 2007 am31 4:48 am 4:48 am

    If your issue is with checks and check minuses, why not ask the teacher?

    I keep paper records. The kids do work on paper. And they come home with paper report cards. And all of that is just fine.

    “It would seem like it would be easier for teachers and benefit more students if they just went to an online grading system”

    It would seem that a teacher is telling you otherwise.

  13. October 18, 2007 am31 6:37 am 6:37 am

    You’re quoting me out of context. I was saying that if teachers are already being asked to create biweekly grade reports for students whose parents ask for it (as they are in my kid’s high school), if that is a non-trivial number of students, then it may be easier for the teachers to keep grade books online. And this might benefit students whose parents didn’t go so far as to request the biweekly reports as well.

    I do hear you telling me that many teachers do not find this easy and do not want to have it forced on them. What I’m truly not getting is why it is harder to keep your grade book on a computer than on a physical piece of paper. Or why, if one were keeping a grade book on a computer, it would be any more unrealistic to expect the grade to be entered when the work is graded, than it is to expect that when grades are recorded in a paper book (which I assume is the norm, but correct me if I’m wrong).

    As to the history grading, we got a chart explaining that check-plus-minus, for example, corresponds to B+/A- or 89-92% (or something like that). I just don’t get how he can compute an average with grades like that, or how they are used in conjunction with other more traditionally-graded pieces of work. It’s certainly enough for me to have a good clue how my son is doing, so I don’t feel like I need to ask the teacher for more information, but it’s not exactly a transparent grading system, and the kids feel like it’s a mystery to them what exactly they need to do to get an A on their report card. My kid, being a math geek like his mom, wants to be able to say things like, “if I get at 92 on my next history text, I’ll have a 90 average so far in history” etc. And yes, knowing is mostly irrelevant, since he’ll aim to do his best in any case, but there’s something about knowing that can be very concretely satisfying for some kids. But… if he wants to know more than he can figure out on his own, he’s going to have to ask the teacher, not me.

  14. October 18, 2007 am31 7:10 am 7:10 am

    You have legitimate grading questions, but all need to be addressed in other ways; not by putting grades on-line.

    I am sensing some real control issues here – and I come down, and will always come down, on the side of professional autonomy for teachers.

  15. October 18, 2007 am31 8:45 am 8:45 am

    I understand that you’re opposed to teachers being required to things in ways that they don’t prefer.

    But what I’m trying to ask here is, what are some of the reasons why teachers might not prefer to keep their grades in this way? Is it logistical issues, such as lack of access to computer while grading, crappy user interface, or inability to trust the program to do the math correctly (I forget where I read about the program that was rounding inappropriately and thus making large errors in computing averages, or I’d give it a trackback here) etc? Or is it more of a desire not to have the grade book completely open to parents and/or at all times? A desire not to require teachers to have a transparent grading scheme at all?

    I know you have already expressed one concern about timeliness, which makes sense if the electronic grade book is being kept as an additional record subordinate to the paper grade book, but not so much if it is the teacher’s primary grade book. Which gets back to questions of logistics of entering grades online, I guess.

    As a parent, I see enough advantages to me and my kid, that it is something I would consider suggesting to our principal or school board. For a parent who wants to be involved, easy access to information is a good thing. Even if the kid’s not trying to hide anything. For a parent who has honesty issues with their child, I agree that they need to work on that, but in the meantime, they may need information as they work on things. For a student, it allows them to double-check that their grades have been entered accurately, and gives them more insight into how their overall grade is impacted by a given grade on a given piece of work.

    But I do want to understand what I would be subjecting teachers to if I did that. I’m curious to know whether the barriers to voluntary adoption by teachers are things which a good district could proactively address, etc. Which is why I asked. And I understand the high-level answer of “I’d rather teachers weren’t forced to use a method they didn’t choose,” but what I’d like to hear more about is why they might or might not choose/like it in the first place (and if certain programs are better or worse than others). But maybe your blog is not the place I should be asking. I just figured I’d have access to several teachers whose opinions I value this way.

  16. October 18, 2007 am31 8:47 am 8:47 am

    Oops, that should have read:
    …desire not to have the grade book completely open to parents and/or students at all times?

  17. October 18, 2007 pm31 6:04 pm 6:04 pm

    mathmom: i don’t get it.

    you say *you* don’t get it
    but then give several good reasons:
    paper & pencil is cheaper, easier,
    and less susceptible to central control.
    what don’t you get, again?

    maybe this: ” … which a *good* district could …”.
    but we don’t get *good* bosses in real life jobs;
    we get the bosses we get (sort of like rummy
    said about the troops). assuming that our leaders
    will act in our interest leads to things like
    hugely unpopular wars (and ineffective schools ….).

  18. October 18, 2007 pm31 6:37 pm 6:37 pm

    The principal at our HS is well-liked by both the community and the teachers, and so maybe I’m totally naive, but I believe that she would act in the interests of both teachers and students. If she knew in advance what some of the barriers were for teachers, she could work to mitigate them. Some people *do* get good bosses.

    You say pencil and paper is “easier” and I am trying to ask “in what ways?” It doesn’t seem easier to me. I only grade one thing, which is MOEMS contests, but I am thrilled to be able to enter the grades online rather than having to fill them in on paper forms and send them in, and double check that they got recorded by the MOEMS people correctly. (They offer both options.)

    So what is so easy about entering grades on paper and having to do your own computation of averages, when a computer could easily do it for you?

    Since I’m talking to teachers via a blog, I know I’m not dealing with technophobes, so what are the issues?

    The thing about “central control” I don’t get either. What is the real concern/objection here? Those are just buzz words — can you give me an example of the kind of control that might be exerted on a teacher using an online system that would not be possible or as likely using paper grade books?

    I don’t mean to seem stubborn or belligerent. I am trying to understand what a teacher might object to in a system like this, and I don’t seem to be getting answers that make sense to me.

  19. October 18, 2007 pm31 9:57 pm 9:57 pm

    i make a mistake in the grading;
    the student discovers it on post-mortem;
    i have to make a correction.
    i’ve got my gradebook right there
    and so i do.

    meanwhile, nobody’s thought to give
    me a free laptop (and free maintenance);
    anyway the very textbook weighs a ton
    and computers are thief-bait so i probably
    don’t want to move around with one
    even if i could afford it.

    but, doggone it, like i said,
    “lack of access to computer while grading, crappy user interface, or inability to trust the program to do the math correctly ”
    are damn good reasons;
    what are you not getting about what
    you yourself already said?

    of *course* there’ll be a “crappy user interface”;
    somebody hacked the damn thing out to try to
    at least look vaguely like some con-artist marketeer
    promised, in a hell of a hurry. even when software
    is well-designed, certain decisions will have been made
    that one would prefer to make for oneself. this is why
    i use “notepad” instead of “word”: the supposedly
    more advanced program keeps trying to read my mind
    and keeps getting it wrong.

    i probably can’t even begin to explain my issues
    with managers trying to take over my authority;
    we seem to inhabit different universes at some level.
    such a discussion would probably begin by my asking
    you to reconsider the “not technophobes” assumption:
    computers have done much more harm in education
    than good in my opinion.

    for example:
    *when* the zillion-dollar crap that management
    bought into (because they never listen to the guys
    in the sneakers that know what they’re talking about;
    only ever to the well-dressed professional liars
    they’re so much more comfortable working with) …
    *when* it fails, you can be damn sure it’ll be
    the (powerless) workers that get the blame.

    the situation i’m describing has recently occured here:
    a fairly minor snafu involving an “upgrade” to voice-mail.
    less recently, though much more seriously,
    the flap over the botched installation of datatel’s
    “business enterprise system” could easily have cost
    some people their jobs. etcetera.

  20. October 18, 2007 pm31 10:02 pm 10:02 pm

    oh, p.s.
    you’re probably thinking of
    the excel 65,535 bug.

  21. October 18, 2007 pm31 11:20 pm 11:20 pm

    nope, not the excel bug — it was a small grading program that rounded 4.6 out of 5 to 100% for each individual grade before averaging them.

  22. October 18, 2007 pm31 11:33 pm 11:33 pm

    what are you not getting about what
    you yourself already said?

    What I was asking was which of those reasons, or which other reasons, were there.

    And as a user interface designer, I do take exception to the assumption that the UI is automatically going to suck. ;-)

    Clearly you’re extremely cynical about your management, perhaps with good reason, so I guess that any discussion along those lines is likely to be fruitless. But I was trying to ask you “guys in sneakers” what might be the issues you’d forsee with systems like this, and I’m not getting much of a concrete reply here. I do see your point about correcting grades during class, but that’s as far as I can see the first concrete objection anyone has posted.

    So, let me ask a different question. Do you believe that the availability of such a system would have benefits for students? Do you believe it would hurt students? In either case, how/why?

  23. October 19, 2007 am31 3:37 am 3:37 am

    Mathmom,

    In response to your earlier question (comment #15): it is easier for me to immediately enter grades on paper. I may be walking around the classroom, spot checking an assignment for completion and discussion misconceptions as I go. To do this with a laptop is cumbersome (yes, I do have a district issued laptop). I like my paper gradebook because I can add little comments to myself (late, reason for a zero or low grade, I can see an original score and a revised score…). I don’t need to login to my paper gradebook or go through multiple windows to find the right class or correct student. I don’t have to click ‘save” after each entry. I don’t have to deal with windows/fields jumping for no reason. I don’t have to deal with fields set up in an order that isn’t logical. Tabbing through multiple fields quickly can result in errors.

    Also, if I have a start up problem/skectchpad demo/TI-Smartview/powerpoint running on the LCD projector I can’t enter grades in my online program.

    I don’t want to update the daily assignments online on a daily basis. It takes too much time to do this for 5 sections. I’d rather do a weeks worth of entering at a time. However, if I do give a major assignment, I update grades online as soon as everything is graded.

    I hope this helps to answer some of your questions. It isn’t that I don’t want my assessment of the students to be transparent. It is that I want to focus my in-class time on my students. Time that I spend at night, I want to be spent on designing lessons and determining how my assessments should guide further instruction.

  24. October 19, 2007 am31 3:53 am 3:53 am

    Thanks, Jackie, that is the kind of information I was looking for.

  25. October 20, 2007 am31 5:25 am 5:25 am

    We get managed and micromanaged all over the place. And so when someone suggests that we do our jobs differently, without any real rationale for why such a change should be required, I will do my job and say no.

    That’s my union answer.

    My personal answer is that I grade on paper. I record grades on paper. I calculate averages on paper. It works well, it is convenient. Why would anyone ask me to change?

  26. October 20, 2007 am31 5:58 am 5:58 am

    Why would anyone ask me to change?

    I might ask you to change if I felt that the change would have advantages for students and parents without being any more trouble for you.

    Do you think that having grades available to students and parents online has advantages for students and parents? Disadvantages? Is neutral?

  27. October 20, 2007 pm31 5:10 pm 5:10 pm

    “I might ask you to change if I felt that the change would have advantages for students and parents without being any more trouble for you.”

    But you haven’t any advantages, and several teachers have answered you about the extra trouble.

  28. October 21, 2007 am31 3:42 am 3:42 am

    Well, every parent I’ve spoken to whose kids’ schools use it loves it. This includes at least one parent who is also a teacher in a different district and has to use such a program herself.)

    That may not sound like an advantage to you, but it does to me.

    Do you really not see any advantage to parents and students?

  29. October 21, 2007 am31 5:20 am 5:20 am

    So the possibility that you might like it is an advantage? I think you want more before you try to obligate every teacher in your school to perform extra work.

  30. October 21, 2007 am31 7:03 am 7:03 am

    An advantage would be a parent being able to “stay on top of things” even if they have a child who is a poor reporter due either to malice or spaciness or any other reason.

    An advantage would be a student knowing that there’s no point even trying to cover up a poor grade, skipped assignment, etc. (I might well have learned a few organizational skills myself before my second year of college if I’d known that my parents were going to see *every* grade, and not just the average I knew I’d be able to bring back up to the expected level by report card time…)

    An advantage would be parents becoming aware of a developing problem early on, and being proactive in trying to correct it.

    Bottom line is that it would definitely improve home-school communication. I am inclined to think that that is a good thing. But I am open to arguments as to why it is not.

  31. October 23, 2007 pm31 5:54 pm 5:54 pm

    “But I am open to arguments as to why it is not.”

    you should probably consider the possibility
    that you’re kidding yourself about this.
    i’ll cop to “extremely cynical”–gladly!–
    right around the time you come out and
    admit you’ve been drinking management’s
    kool-aid and (gladly, no doubt) describe
    yourself as “astonishingly naïve”.

    yours in the struggle; yours in the faith.

  32. October 23, 2007 pm31 7:15 pm 7:15 pm

    I’ll cop to “naive” since I’m not really a teacher. Astonishingly so, I hope not. I don’t really have any interaction with the folks you call “management” and I call “the administration of our local schools” other than as a parent, and that has be extremely minimal thus far. So, I wouldn’t say I’m drinking management’s Kool Aid.

    I’m coming at this mainly as a parent. So certainly naive as to the teacher’s point of view. But I have discussed this with a parent friend of mine who is also a teacher who is required to use an online grade book system. Her school uses their online system to determine weekly eligibility for sports. Since our school has been talking about determining sports eligibility more frequently, this is another reason I think such a system might be attractive to “management” at our school. But since management is planning to make teachers jump through a bunch of hoops (signing off a paper indicating eligibility is maintained every week) for this anyhow, it again might make sense for the hoops they jump through to have wider-ranging benefits.

    My teacher friend said, “I like it much better than keeping paper grades because it takes out a huge chunk of the work that goes into keeping a gradebook.” This may be all the more true for teachers who are required to compute their students’ averages every 1 or 2 weeks to determine sports eligibility and/or to send a parent-requested bi-weekly report home.

    I have spoken to another teacher offline who also finds it easier than a paper grade book.

    So, it leads me to wonder why the teachers I know outside the blogosphere like it, while those I know through the blogosphere seem so extremely resistant to it. And it seems to me that it is much less about what would actually be easy to use, and more about not be required to do things in a certain way. Which is fine when both ways have identical results, but when one way offers worthwhile advantages that the other doesn’t, then it seems reasonable to me to consider what barriers exist to teachers using/liking the more advantageous way, and try to address those rather than just saying teachers can use whatever they prefer despite losing those advantages.

    So, my question to you again is: Do you feel that online grade books offer any worthwhile advantages to parents, to students, or indeed even to teachers? Or do you really feel that having their work returned and getting a quarterly grade report is “just as good”.

  33. vlorbik permalink
    October 23, 2007 pm31 9:04 pm 9:04 pm

    but being *required* to do things in a certain way
    is exactly my main objection (here and in several
    other–pretty nearly all–computer applications
    in my job … which, btw, just in case there’s been
    any confusion, is at a community college,
    not a public school … probably i shouldn’t have been
    kibbitzing at all …). but i’m not going to try any harder
    to convince you that this is actually worth thinking about.
    thanks for being such a good sport about my namecalling ….

  34. October 24, 2007 am31 1:09 am 1:09 am

    Well, nobody wants to be micromanaged.

    I’d be annoyed if my boss required me to do things a certain way “just because”.

    But if my boss asked me to do something in a certain way because that was what the client requested, or because it would result in an advantage for our company, or another “good reason” then I would suck it up and do it that way even if it wasn’t my preference. (If the client requested something I felt they would not actually benefit from, then I would probably try to convince them of why I felt that way.)

    So, the question comes down to: “Is the increased home-school communication, student accountability, etc. a ‘good reason’ to ask teachers to do grades in this way?” which in turn comes down to: “does keeping an electronic grade book result in any worthwhile advantage to the students, parents, teachers and/or the school?”

    Now of course if grading in this way is really going to take you much longer, then there’s a trade-off of students losing out on you spending more time on instruction and/or planning, which would be a disadvantage to the student, that the magnitudes of those advantages and disadvantages would have to be weighed.

    But so far no one here is really answering the question about whether there are in fact real advantages to online grade books. The “clients” of public education (parents of public school students) certainly seem to believe there are. Is increased home-school communication a good thing? Is having students accountable for their grades on a weekly basis for sports/activity eligibility a good thing? Is giving students an easy way to double check the recording of their grades a good thing? Is giving students a clearer picture of “where they stand” more often than quarterly (or 6/year) reports a good thing?

    So, regardless of the fact that you wouldn’t like to be asked to grade in a specific way, what do you think of that question — are there advantages or not?

  35. October 24, 2007 am31 2:19 am 2:19 am

    Mathmom,

    If students and/or parents were to use the online gradebook, I could see how there might be advantages. However, on a daily basis I spend class time & time before and after school fielding questions from students, parents, counselors, and special ed case-managers about grades – that I post online. When I ask if they’ve checked online, the response vary from I’ve lost the password, I don’t have internet at home, I need information that a number can’t provide, to it is easier to just ask you.

    Needless to say it is frustrating. Also, shouldn’t students have an understanding of “where they stand” based upon the amount of homework they have completed, the grades earned on homework/quizzes/tests/projects?

    So, while there may be some parents and students who would use the system, what about the ones who don’t?

  36. October 24, 2007 am31 4:48 am 4:48 am

    Thanks, Jackie, that’s a good point about the parents and students who wouldn’t use the computer at home to find out. The parents I’ve spoken to who love it are all computer-savvy, so no surprise that they use it.

    As to students having an understanding of “where they stand” based on returned classwork, I think they do, but I think for some it’s clearer and more concrete if they could see their average at any time.

    I wonder if anyone who has taught both with and without the online grade book could comment on whether the inquiries from parents and students at least get reduced by having the online grades.

    Jackie, how new is the online grade book system at your school? It seems to me that at least counselors and case managers should be “required” to use the online system before asking you (just as you are required to provide the online grades). There does seem to be a “school culture” issue at work there if even the staff of the school does not take advantage of the system. Of course, sometimes someone will need something that the numbers alone just don’t provide, but I would assume that that would be a minority of the cases.

  37. October 24, 2007 am31 6:52 am 6:52 am

    Mathmom,

    Well, as we are contractually only obligated to update the computer system at progress report time (8 times per year – roughly every 4.5 weeks), not every teacher updates grades online on a regular basis. Thus, the school staff just send out mass emails to all of a student’s teachers when they want updates. I admit it isn’t the best system in that respect. However, I support the decision of our bargaining team on that one.

    Also, our online gradebook doesn’t show a last updated date, so this can be difficult to interpret. (I have a note on my school webpage showing when I last updated, but this is something I choose to do – I don’t know if anyone even checks it as they’d have to then look at two websites).

    I’m not sure we’re going to reach an agreement on this one.

  38. October 24, 2007 am31 7:08 am 7:08 am

    Mathmom:

    I haven’t read all of the comments above, but let me tell you why I don’t use the districts online “live” gradebook but rather post the grades on my personal website.

    One, when the first homework assignment is turned in and I enter the grades, I know that I would immediately have parents emailing me about whether the work could still be turned in, whether they need a tutor for Johnny, etc. I don’t put my grades up until after their first chapter exam when I’ll have about ten grades to average (say 7 homework, 2 quizzes, and the exam). That way parents aren’t extrapolating one assignment’s grade into the student’s overall performance. Because email is so easy today, I get an email or two everyday, and five or six a day around exam time, and many more at the end of the day. All I need is email concerning one kids missing assignment from yesterday when it turns out he was gone on a field trip.

    I have a friend whose daycare has a camera in it so theparents can log on to their website from work and have a peek around. I feel that is what parents expect from teachers sometimes. But just because we teach their kids doesn’t mean that they have every right to know what is exactly going on in realtime. Yes, communication is important between the school and home, but many parents don’t understand that even a five-minute email once a week from me would mean that I would spend over 14.5 hours doing that.

    However, I question the wisdom of having conferences after a six-week report card comes out when the grades can’t be changed like at Jonathan’s school. We send home progress reports each quarter with current grades just before conferences occur so that we can discuss with the parents what needs to be done to get our failing students’ grades up.

  39. October 24, 2007 am31 7:22 am 7:22 am

    Back to my question!

    The “idea” is to have a report card come out fast, send it home, then, with much time left in the term (2 terms per year), have the parents come in to discuss where adjustments need to be made.

    My preference would be for 8 – 9 marking periods, and have the parents come in after about 6 weeks, with some time before 1st report card. It would cut down on paper work (big deal from a teacher’s perspective) but also might catch more problems and get parents and teachers on board together before an actual grade was recorded.

    Jonathan

  40. October 24, 2007 am31 8:57 am 8:57 am

    Sorry to hijack your comments thread, Jonathan!

    Would parents usually go in to conference with every teacher under your plan? If not, how would parents know which teachers they most needed to visit, particularly if a child is attempting to hide things from them?

  41. October 24, 2007 am31 8:58 am 8:58 am

    ib, interesting perspective on the perils of too much immediacy! Thanks for the feedback.

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