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Q&A #2916

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Accelerated Math program

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From: Dwight Blubaugh <dblubaugh@erps.k12.mi.us>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2005040600:57:15
Subject: Re: grading policies K-12

There's been discussion about whether to grade students on AM by their
average scores or by how many objectives they have mastered - I
combine these two methods of grading.  Keep in mind that I am
currently using the program with my more motivated / advanced fourth
grade math students, so this scale might be a bit steep for an entire
class.  I have a basic scale for students that might help -

Number of practice objectives mastered during a 9-week marking period:

below 20 = failing
20 objectives = D-
30 objectives = C-
40 objectives = B-
60 objectives = A-
80 objectives = A+

Tests must be caught up to between 10 and 20 objectives behind the
mastered practice objectives (I don't want students testing too soon
or too long after mastering the practice objectives), or I adjust the
grade downward a bit.

Then, I figure in the average scores of the practices:

90 - 100% mastery keeps the grade earned above.
80 - 89% mastery drops one letter grade.
70 - 79% mastery drops two letter grades and causes reconsideration of
whether the student should continue on AM.
60 - 69% mastery drops three letter grades and is cause for probable
dismissal from the AM program.

For each extra 30 practice objectives a student masters beyond the 80,
they raise one letter grade - I break this down to an extra percentage
point on their grade for each additional three objectives they master.

I do also figure a couple other things into these kids' math grades. 
They can earn an extra 5% by working in our school store for the
marking period if they pass the store "tests" to qualify (one recess
per week) - this is a very good incentive for them to work in our
store, and it is great experience for them.  I also figure their
progress on our daily Mad Minute timed math tests into their grade
(though this is a very minor part of the grade).

At this point, after using this grading scale for three marking
periods, I plan on using it again next year - the three students I
have on AR have had A's and B's with this scale this year, and while
the bar seemed a bit high to them to begin with, they have risen to
meet it, all earning A's this past marking period.


A.M. NICE FOR "COVERING YOUR *$!"

I do give a copy of this criteria to parents, and I also give them a
calendar that lists where their child should be (minimum) by each
Friday to be on track to complete the 80 objectives by the end of the
marking period.  The calendar really helps, as some students / parents
really think they're making great progress when they complete very
minimal amounts of objectives.  With one student, whose parents
thought he was progressing much more quickly than he really was, I got
into one of the report options to see what days he had scanned
practices and tests.  It was very interesting to parents to see the
photocopied calendar I filled in with practices / tests scanned.  Some
days he had scanned three or four times (which means lots of work
during school, as students can only have one practice assignment and
one test out at a time), but other times he would go four or five days
in a row without scanning anything - a real eye opener for these
parents, and a way to show them this particular student's varying
motivation.  (He told his parents most nights that he had brought home
and completed another AM practice, which would have meant scanning at
least one of these per day in school.)  AM is so wonderful when you
need to trace documentation for problems like this - the records are
ALL THERE, and parents can't argue that the teacher had faulty record
keeping!!

I'd love feedback on this or other possible ways of grading students
on A.M.

Dwight Blubaugh
Northwestern Elem.
Eaton Rapids, MI
dblubaugh@erps.k12.mi.us

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