Carnival of Education

The Carnival of Education, hosted this week by Teacher in a Strange Land, features a post by NYC Educator on Steve, who thinks he should be forgiven all his sins (doing no work until now) if he repents in the last month of school.

. . . whenever I go to check his work, he hasn’t done anything. And when I collect work, including tests, his papers are notoriously absent. A few days ago, he asked, “Mr. Educator, if I show up every day and do all the rest of the work, can I pass this class?”

. . . “It’s the third marking period. This is the one that counts.”

I don’t know exactly where kids get the idea that two thirds of the semester is just for practice, and that teachers will forget about it in the end. But it’s a very common belief. In meetings, we’re encouraged to pass kids who’ve failed most of the term if they catch up in the end.

NYC Educator hasn’t seen anyone blow off most of the year and catch up in the last month. But if Steve could do it, should he pass?

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Comments

  1. thaprof says:

    If it weren’t New York, “Steve” could be my oldest. That encapsulates his attitude perfectly.

  2. Mark Roulo says:

    I don’t know exactly where kids get the idea that two thirds of the semester is just for practice, and that teachers will forget about it in the end. But it’s a very common belief. In meetings, we’re encouraged to pass kids who’ve failed most of the term if they catch up in the end.

    I think that the last sentence explains where exactly the kids get the idea that two thirds of the semester is just for practice…

    -Mark Roulo

  3. SuperSub says:

    Well, pop culture idolizes the screw-up or villain who turns a leaf late in the game to become a hero. Rarely does pop culture honor those who consistently work hard… instead they are often mocked as being anal-retentive, anti-social, and stuck up.

    Of course, my school has recently received a flood of phone calls from parents who have just realized (after the third quarter report cards) that their children have failed the first three quarters and want to know what the school will do to fix the situation.

  4. It really depends what we mean by “catch up” but if two students reach the end of the term with the same content comprehension, I don’t know why their grades shouldn’t be equivalent.

  5. Roger Sweeny says:

    if two students reach the end of the term with the same content comprehension, I don’t know why their grades shouldn’t be equivalent.

    It all depends on what you’re grading on. If you are grading on “content comprehension the last day of the term,” then they should get the same grade.

    The question is, why should you care only about that? It would make sense if both students had learned in the “falling off a bicycle” sort of way. They don’t forget, though they may need to refresh their memories. It makes a lot less sense if they have just learned in a “memorize for the test and then forget” sort of way. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that (at least in the upper grades), most learning is the latter.

    In that case, it may make sense to also grade on following directions, doing your work on time, etc. In fact, those kinds of things may have a much greater effect on life success than memorizing and forgetting content in a course.

  6. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that (at least in the upper grades), most learning is the latter.

    It’s on the teacher to make that assessment meaningful, the sort that can’t be duped with quick memorization or some notes scrawled lightly onto a desk. This isn’t impossible, of course.

    Moreover, even assuming one student will forget sooner than the other, I can’t declare that student’s entire term a do-over on that gray distinction alone.

  7. Richard Nieporent says:

    NYC Educator hasn’t seen anyone blow off most of the year and catch up in the last month. But if Steve could do it, should he pass?

    No.

    It really depends what we mean by “catch up” but if two students reach the end of the term with the same content comprehension, I don’t know why their grades shouldn’t be equivalent.

    Unfortunately Dan the real world doesn’t work that way. You are not doing the student any favor by letting him pass after doing no work for the whole term. The only thing that he would learn is that he doesn’t have to follow the rules and that is a prescription for disaster.

  8. Chartermom says:

    SuperSub Says: Well, pop culture idolizes the screw-up or villain who turns a leaf late in the game to become a hero. Rarely does pop culture honor those who consistently work hard… instead they are often mocked as being anal-retentive, anti-social, and stuck up.

    Such true words! And unfortunately what pop culture doesn’t tell us is that many (most?) folks that screw up don’t ever catch up, recover or otherwise become a hero.

    As for Steve — were the rules explained up front early in the year. Things like late assignments drop a grade or 5 points for every day late, etc. If so then tough luck. Yes it is about comprehending the material, but it is also learning about getting things done when they are due and being responsible.

  9. Roger Sweeny says:

    Dan Meyer.

    I’m not talking “quick memorization or some notes scrawled lightly on a desk.” I’m talking about knowing the material well enough to do well on a test but not remembering much of it a month later. I’m talking about what a teacher means when she says, “By August, my students will have forgotten 95 percent of what they learned in my class.”

    Such a sentiment is remarkably common. And it is almost impossible to come up with an assessment which will predict how much a student will retain in August.

  10. Anthony says:

    If a teacher thinks like Dan Meyer, they can weight the grades to count the final exam and/or final paper/project much more heavily than the rest of the course.

    I was one of those students who didn’t actually finish the homework, but would learn the material. Teachers who graded primarily on exams gave me As. Teachers who graded primarily on homework gave me Cs. I’d have preferred for all my teachers to grade primarily on exams, up until I got to college, and got hammered because I’d reached the point where I had to actually do the work to learn the material.

  11. Tracy W says:

    Unfortunately Dan the real world doesn’t work that way.

    Really? When did it stop? It was working that way the last time I looked.

    You are not doing the student any favor by letting him pass after doing no work for the whole term. The only thing that he would learn is that he doesn’t have to follow the rules and that is a prescription for disaster.

    Of course, sometimes following the rules is the prescription for disaster. It depends on how well the rules relate to reality.

  12. Richard Nieporent says:

    Tracy, I didn’t realize that it was so controversial to expect students to do the assigned work. Why do you believe that they should not be given a failing grade when they don’t hand in an assignment?

    Really? When did it stop? It was working that way the last time I looked.

    Please enlighten us so that we can know which jobs people can get where they don’t have to do work on a regular basis. Most companies would fire someone for not doing their work.

    Of course, sometimes following the rules is the prescription for disaster. It depends on how well the rules relate to reality.

    Yes there are exceptions to every rule. But that is not what I was talking about, now was it? All companies have a set of rules that they expect their employees to follow. Deciding that you don’t have to follow those rules will not improve your job security.

  13. Margo/Mom says:

    “Unfortunately Dan the real world doesn’t work that way.”

    Ah, yes. I recall my son’s kindergarten teacher trying to explain this to me. My son learned a lot about Vincent Van Gogh that year. He recognized his paintings on post cards and in books. He could sculpt playdough for hours. He loved drawing in pencil. He failed kindergarten art. Why? Because he couldn’t color in the lines. “Unfortunately,” the teacher explained (and don’t you just hate that word “unfortunately?”), in the real world, he will have to color in the lines.

    Well, many in the real world have continued to color in the lines. He never has.