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Interesting thread on the General board about grades ...


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I didn't read all the replies, just skimmed the first 2 pages.

 

It made me chuckle, actually. My oldest ds had 2 C's on his high school transcript. I grade hard and I give grades that I believe they honestly deserve. Perhaps I live in an alternate reality, but my kids don't always turn in their best efforts. I am sure as heck not going to give them an A when they have simply slapped something together in order to complete an assignment. Life is not full of "do overs." But.....I do make my kids redo work until it reflects their actual abilities (it simply doesn't change their grade! Otherwise, why ever learn to do it right the first time??)

 

FWIW......I have no regrets in how I grade. My ds has had zero problems maintaining a high GPA. I am certain that my standards were/are on par with what they expect and he had no surprises.

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Mastery in just fine but, in high school there just isn't time to stay where one is and not move on till an "A" on the test is achieved. My ds has gotten 2 "B's" so far this year and it has motivated him to study harder for the following tests. Also, in high school we do have to prepare them for the real world of college - where your first attemp at a test will be your last!

 

One time my MIL told my daughter (after she showed her her report card with all "A's") "well you homeschool, of course you will get A's." That bothered me because she worked hard and studied for those grades!

Barb

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I agree with both of you Momof7 and Barb. While we certainly want to teach mastery, there is merit in having the student learn how much studying is required to test well the first time. Also in teaching the reality of deadlines and doing one's best on projects and papers. Hmmm. The mom who posed the question has probably not yet had a 14-yo boy. Just sayin'.

 

Lisa

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Same here... If they earn a A they get an A. If they earn a C they get a C and so on. Too often my kids rush through their work just to get it done so they can go on to doing "fun" stuff. They have to redo the work to get mastery but their grades reflect their first effort. My philosophy is that life does not usually allow us redo things so they need to learn to do the work the first time. At the same time my job is to make sure they learn. So that is what I am aiming for.

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I only read a little bit myself. Yes, we tried to teach to mastery as much as possible, but I also graded their papers, assignments, and tests as if I was a teacher at a typical good public or private school. I graded things like I remember being graded myself. When my oldest was doing Algebra II in 9th grade and wasn't really ready for the material (she got straight "A's" in the class two years later when we enrolled her in the private school) I had to give her a failing grade for the second semester. The school counselor suggested that I show this as a "W" for "Withdrew" on my transcript, which I did. I don't feel like the oldest two did their best job in Latin, so I gave them a B-minus on their transcript.

 

I reviewed material as often as I had to, when necessary, but I also tried to grade and write up their transcripts as realistically as possible. To me, that is how the real world functions; you don't always get a second chance to do it over. When I was in college, I was dropped an entire letter grade on an otherwise good term paper on the Middle Ages simply because I consistently substituted the word "calvary" for "cavalry" throughout the paper. I also clearly remember a French test on which I received a "C" (I had been getting straight "A's" in the class) because I hadn't seen one side of one page of the test. Oddly, the teacher had printed the test on just one side of each page but on just one page the test had been printed on both sides. Another student and I had both missed this entirely; when we asked the teacher, she just said, "Too bad."

 

So, I think that's the real world we need to prepare our kids for, and it's part of the growing-up process. I don't think kids need to be doormats with their teachers or their education, and there have been times I've encouraged my girls to speak up to the teachers on a particular issues, but as often as not I find myself siding with their teachers.

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... and I'm hardly ever on the general board. I ended up there because of a search and started browsing. I read that post. I posted a long response. And I deleted.

 

I think that it's probably hard to understand "how" this will work until you are doing it. Motivating teens isn't easy. Getting them to see that grades matter is the first step. Helping them to choose challenging courses that they have the aptitude and skills to do well in is the second step. And then keeping their nose to the grindstone so that they take the time and make the effort to do well is the third step. (I'll bet that those of you who are actually hsing teens can see all of my gentle, peaceful, kind encouragement in that last sentence. :glare: ;))

 

This is training. And you can use it to your advantage. Homework. Quizzes (oral or written). Then tests. They can tell if they don't get something and so can you if you keep up with the daily work. And so can you. BUT keeping up is REALLY hard!

 

I think there in lies the root of the problem. The time to "teach to mastery" is BEFORE the test, not after. We moms get busy and stuff slips through the cracks and we find out that the kid is either lost or has blown things off only when they take the test at the end of three weeks worth of "work." What then? Punish the kid because we weren't keeping tabs on them? GUILT there! Or let them keep the grade that they earned? OK. Fine. Then what? They can't move forward because they don't understand the previous material; we should have been keeping tabs on their work. Guilt again! :001_smile: It seems easier to just go back and work through a do-over. But then we feel funny about that so we flip things around and we say that we are "working toward mastery" when really we are working toward a vicious cycle of blowing stuff off and then allowing the child NOT to suffer any immediate consequences. There will probably be consequences later.

 

It really is better to find a way to try and stay on top of stuff. Day in and day out. (Reminds me of the Zits cartoon that Nan linked too.) It really does solve the whole problem. It trains them to spend the EXTRA time getting the EXTRA help that they need in order to master material BEFORE they need to demonstrate mastery. The circle back and re-do method really does send the wrong message. Not a pattern that I want to function under. It really is better to TRAIN them and then hold them accountable. Time consuming and HARD to do, but probably worth the effort. (We'll see.....)

 

Tough stuff! Especially when you are living it rather than wondering about what you would do in that situation based on your educational philosophy. (Based on my educational philosophy I would never have guessed that I would be doing a lot of things that I am doing....... :001_smile:)

 

Peace,

Janice

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When I was just teaching the boys together when they were younger, I didn't keep grades. I don't do grades for my 2nd grader now. Now that I have 3 in wildly varying subjects, I would love to teach to mastery, but the honest truth is I cannot. I don't have the in-depth knowledge of all 18 subjects I'm teaching to do that. School has become good enough.

 

I have wondered about my 9th son, however. He is a math/science kid. I am a former history/English teacher. These were his grades for the 1st quarter:

English A-, SOS Spanish B, History A, Chalkdust Geometry B+, Chemistry B+.

 

Can you tell what I am teaching for mastery in MY subjects!!! This child will probably be a National Merit Scholar based on his scores for the Duke program in 7th grade. I am honestly lost in Geometry and his physician dad is doing Chemistry as I don't understand any of that either. (He is doing Apologia with Teaching Co videos.) He wants to major in a science or a math field and I've wondered how it will look for him to have better grades in English and history sections????? I also wonder if I am too tough on him. In school, they would get give away grades for just turning in homework and such. I never took Spanish and I'm just giving him the grade the computer does for that. I don't have a clue and he is doing that all by himself. I hear our community college has a GREAT Spanish teacher that homeschool students have used for dual credit, so I will have him do that his junior year I guess. Still I wondered.

 

Christine

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"Why would a homeschooler not make straight A's?"

 

Food for thought.

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

My daughter and I discuss beforehand how I will grade. She understands that whatever grade she gets on her tests, I will record.

 

I encourage her to check her work before she hands it in. This seems to cut down on errors.

 

In math, for example, she does have to redo a problem that she misses if her mistake is substantial - like an error in understanding how to do the problem. If it is a simple mistake like addition/subtraction error, then we usually just discuss it.

 

The grade she gets the first time is the grade I count. She understands that there are consequences for getting problems incorrect or accidentally skipping some.

 

I would not feel comfortable giving her an inflated grade because it would not be accurate, nor would it reflect her level of understanding of the materiel.

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I agree with all you ladies. The time to learn the material was before the test. If they don't know the material well enough for an A they don't get an A. If they have trouble on a foundational skill (math, science), we discuss it and move on, but they do not get a re-do. I'm very happy that the ACT now has a GPA equivalency printed on the test. It helps to validate my grades to those who say, "well, of course they'll get all A's with mom grading them."

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:iagree: This is another reason elementary was so much easier..kwim? My kids can compute their own GPA and know the value of preparing for a test. Personally, I'm overly sensitive to mommy grades and go out of my way to avoid them.

 

Disclaimer....My dd is enrolled in a program that requires grades.

 

I agree with all you ladies. The time to learn the material was before the test. If they don't know the material well enough for an A they don't get an A. If they have trouble on a foundational skill (math, science), we discuss it and move on, but they do not get a re-do. I'm very happy that the ACT now has a GPA equivalency printed on the test. It helps to validate my grades to those who say, "well, of course they'll get all A's with mom grading them."
Edited by Tammyla
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Let me say at the beginning of post that I don't give grades. Grades would hamper my ability to teach effectively. I feel that if I did give grades, people looking at the transcript, even with a postscript saying otherwise, are probably going to assume that I have based that grade in part on first-time marks on tests, since that is how public school works. That means I would have to be able to write a good test (or aquire one). I cannot do this. No matter what I do, my children manage to interpret some of my test questions differently than I meant them. There is an art to writing a good test. I don't want to take the time to learn that art. Writing a good test would also require that I have some idea of what good students know about a certain subject after a reasonable amount of work. I don't have any basis of comparison, so I don't know. I could write a test for a very simple curriculum which only taught what the student needed to be able to do and know, and nothing else, but who wants to do that? I want to teach richly, bombarding my children with lots and lots of ideas and material. And I want them to have some say as to which bits they remember. I find it hard, sometimes, to predict what they will find useful. So - no grades.

 

I do try to stay on top of their learning, because if I don't, we have a mess. I haven't found a good way to do this other than going through the material together and discussing it. Some things I've chosen not to stay on top of. In those subjects, I try to make them read enough material that they just plain remember the important bits. Textbook things like math and Latin are fairly easy - I read them the textbook, we do some problems together, and they do some later in the day on their own in writing. The next day, we look at the written work before we do the next lesson. I can do this because at most I have only homeschooled two children, almost all their subjects were combined except math, and they each had something independent they were working on that they could do while I did math with the other one. I am scared (tempted but scared GRIN) to do a video program or self-teaching program because of exactly the scenario that Janice lays out. I am weak, and I would let weeks go by without checking, and then we'd be left with a mess that I had to straighten out and teach anyway. It is easier to teach it day by day in the first place.

 

Ok, so I've written all this and I still haven't even gotten to what I wanted to post about.

 

Janice wrote, "It really is better to find a way to try and stay on top of stuff. Day in and day out. (Reminds me of the Zits cartoon that Nan linked too.) It really does solve the whole problem." (So far so good - I agree.) She continues, "It trains them to spend the EXTRA time getting the EXTRA help that they need in order to master material BEFORE they need to demonstrate mastery. The circle back and re-do method really does send the wrong message. Not a pattern that I want to function under. It really is better to TRAIN them and then hold them accountable. Time consuming and HARD to do, but probably worth the effort. (We'll see.....)"

 

I have a problem with this last bit. This assumes that the child learns things in little pieces one after another, as presented by the curriculum. My middle one didn't. He would suddenly get something all at once at the end (aquiring a bunch of failing grades if I'd been grading). My youngest and I can, but not always. (I include myself because I have been doing a lot of learning along with them.) Learning isn't always a nice straight line from a to b. It is for simple things, but not for large, complicated, interconnected things. For practical school purposes, there are two ways to learn those sorts of things (as far as I can see - I'd love for someone to tell me some other ways): memorize all the little bits and then put the bits into a picture at the end, or go over the whole picture a number of times getting less and less wrong each time. School is a fairly artificial learning situation. Artificial time structures and artificial situations and uses are imposed on the subject. The first method is what I think of as "classical" (rightly or wrongly). It is very efficient, but it is dry and assumes that you can memorize things reasonably quickly and permanantly. And you need to make sure that you then go back and practise applying what you've learned in a more wholistic situation. (Or you will wind up like those people who can solve a math problem but can't apply their math to an engineering or science problem, or the ones who had years of a foreign language in school but can't function the foreign country, or can spout names, places, and dates in history but can't make connections and tell you the why's.) Those of us with bad memories can't always learn something the first way. We are stuck with the second way. Or at least picking curriculums that use a combination of the two - Ecce Romani, TWEM great books, and NEM are examples. Take NEM, for example. It integrates algebra and geometry rather than teaching the geometry all at once one year. Each year, it teaches most of the algebra all at once at the beginning and then spends the rest of the year teaching geometry, during which the student is practising the algebra. Saxon math is the opposite. It teaches a tiny bit of a concept each day, has the student practise it a few times, and then reviews or expands other concepts for the rest of the excersize. It is assumed that the student will memorize the pieces of the concepts and then be able to put them together and apply them at the end. Having tried this with two of my children, I can tell you that it doesn't work if you are wired the way my family is wired. (My husband and I were in school together. We did lots of homework together. Our brains work the same way. It is no wonder our children have inherited the same problems. Big sigh.) The "teaching to mastery" doesn't really work either, because you might not be able to master a small segment until you've been exposed to a whole lot of the material and mangled it yourself.

 

Anyhow... If you are wired like this, grades aren't really a good idea, mastery-based or otherwise. You learn by doing exactly that "circle back and re-do" method, but often with a pretty big circle. If you are lucky, the circle back is built into the curriculum, like NEM, and you are doing something like homeschooling, which doesn't absolutely require you to use grades and learn things in a school-like manner.

 

This post could have been put in the why homeschool high school thread, also.

 

I'm just realizing now that this is a large part of why TWTM works for us - it separates skills and contents, allowing us to minimize the memorization, and it uses a simple cycle for learning content subjects, one which allows us to practise one whole thing beginning to end over and over, getting better at it each time. This also makes me realize one of the reasons some people don't like TWTM - they may not like doing something poorly the first umpteen times, slowly improving over time. It makes grading very difficult. It makes it hard to see if thier children are making progress. They have to be willing to be patient with their children and not get upset when something is done "badly" for a few years. The child himself has to keep from getting discouraged. Hmmm - suddenly I am more sympathetic with the people who haven't been able to make TWTM work for them.

 

Sorry for thinking aloud here... This post is way too long. Anywy, things to think about...

 

-Nan

Edited by Nan in Mass
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...agree with momof7 and barb

 

I see high school years just as much as *prep* for college as for the academic learning...no do-overs there. I'm also pretty hard nosed on *due dates* and appropriate amounts of time to get work/reading done.

 

Even if a kid is just honestly not strong in a subject, better for them to realize it and ACCEPT it at home...than to get straight A's, graduate with a great GPA and then go to college and realize that they are not on the same par. They will drown.

 

Most colleges have classes to HELP with your child's weak spots...but they won't put them in if they have an A and great test scores!

 

We have two friends who gave their kids *A for effort* type grades...both kids went off to school and dropped out at the Christmas break.

Edited by MSPolly
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As their mother, I prefer to model forgiveness and working-together-to-acheive-a-goal and adaptability. The rest of the world does too good a job of teaching no-second-chance. My children get plenty of that. I prefer to focus on learning the material. When my son forgot the meeting arrangements, he had to find his way across Tokyo by himself at 13. If one of them forgets their routine in a gymnastics competition, they do not win. One moment of laziness or inattention when we are cruising and they can sink the boat (along with their month's worth of schoolwork LOL). Animals die if you forget to feed them. Even our beloved woodstove is unforgiving. If our lives weren't so... I don't know how to put it... real??, I might rethink whether I needed to model harsh realities within the family. My children know how school works. So far they haven't messed up in outside learning situations any more than I did after years of public school.

 

Just suggesting another way to look at it...

-Nan

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Now that my oldest is in 7th grade, I give the grade that he achieved but then he still has to go and correct the wrong answers. Even if he got an A, he still has to correct the wrong answers. I want him to have mastery over the subject but I also want him to realize that there will come a day when I won't be his teacher and a grade on a test is final.

 

We work on mastery with our twin 4th graders but I think 7th grade is the line for me on grades. I have high school to prep for so that we can prep for college.:001_smile:

 

Thus far, he has straight A's but he has had to really step up his study skills.

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Yes, Nan! Definitely a great point.

 

I guess what I meant by the circle back and re-do is that if we are going to work through chapter 4 in the math book, I try to hold them accountable to that material as we go along. If they don't "get" something and we are working diligently, I slow down and re-teach. And sometimes that means that we have to spend extra time. But I know that there's no reason to move onto chapter 5 if chapter 4 is a disaster. We work harder; we spend more time on it; and generally, things usually come together. But I try not to have the "circle back model" look like this: The kid says that he's doing math for 1 1/2 hours a day. I'm busy so I'm not checking everything. I give him the test and he bombs it. I yell. And I let him re-do the chapter so he can get a better grade. Do that too many times and we never get through the material. THAT is the circle back and re-do that I don't want.

 

Now in general, we are DEFINITELY circling back through the content as we march through the content. Alg I, Alg II, Precal. And every chapter is a circle-back.

 

History, Literature, Writing - there is always that element of layer, circle back, and layer on little bit more. But yes, sometimes it takes a LONG time for my kids to "get" stuff.

 

I just try not to let the "Circle Back and Re-do" be a pattern for blowing stuff off and then just letting them do it again with no consequences. THAT's what I'm trying to avoid.

 

Make sense?

Janice

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I try hard to avoid that kind of circling back, too. You've been posting great straight foward do-not-do-this advice recently. It is altogether too easy to muddle along and feel that things aren't going very well, but not really know where the problem lies, making it hard to fix things. I think my middle child is just unusual. He would get two thirds of his math wrong for lesson after lesson but still be able to proceed because he understood the concept more or less, just couldn't apply it very well. Then after a long time, he would be able to appy that concept, but he'd still be getting the problems wrong because he wouldn't apply the newer concepts correctly. Maybe it was NEM. But with NEM, I knew, really knew, whether he could do the math or not. When we did Saxon, he got the problems right but couldn't apply the math outside the Saxon problem set. Ug. I'd rather he got most of the problems wrong and wound up with an understanding of how to use the math. But it certainly made me happy I wasn't grading.

-Nan

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I'm just realizing now that this is a large part of why TWTM works for us - it separates skills and contents, allowing us to minimize the memorization, and it uses a simple cycle for learning content subjects, one which allows us to practise one whole thing beginning to end over and over, getting better at it each time.

 

if we are going to work through chapter 4 in the math book, I try to hold them accountable to that material as we go along.

 

I've always wondered what people here meant when they talked about giving grades for various subjects - did they mean the skill subjects? The content subjects? What exactly did they mean by "teach to mastery?" "Mastering certain information?" WHAT information?

 

I tend to think like Nan talked about - separating skills from content - it's what I gleaned from WTM. I can see teaching to mastery in certain skills like math/grammar/Latin grammar, and then giving a grade. I'm just not sure how one grades content matter...does it mean memorizing certain info., say in history or science? Does it mean that you analyzed 8 Mom-assigned lit. books via WEM/some other lit. analysis? And wrote grammatically/mechanically/spelling-correct papers on the books, OR that there was content info. in the papers that Mom thought should be there? Even with that - SWB told us at the PHP conference in the workshops on writing that kids are still learning in high school how to write papers using rhetoric skills and that we should help them with mechanics/spelling/grammar, but go easy for awhile on the products of application of new rhetoric skills - don't be too worried about that, just keep them practicing. It seemed to me to still be more about skills than about mastering content info...then again, if rhetoric is a skill, how do you grade that? It's a little more fuzzy isn't it? than whether or not the math problem was solved correctly...? Or do even skills get harder to grade straightforwardly in high school?

 

very interesting thread. It's going to my "saved" files for future reference.

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The psvirtual school teacher actually gives a chance to correct assignments and then adjsts the grade. The only Florida Virtual School course we have used is Spanish.

The teacher sends the assignment back with the ones that need to be corrected. If ds corrects them and resubmits the assignment, she changes the grade for that assignment. This is only for assignments not for tests.

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I've taught many college composition classes over the years, and I've always allowed students to revise their papers, either by grading a portfolio at the end of the semester or by allowing unlimited revisions, with the new grade replacing the old. Why? Because it teaches students exactly what they need to know to become good writers-that writing requires rewriting, and other eyes on the draft, and rewriting some more. They learn more by revising their already graded papers than they ever would by just taking their lumps.

 

What this means though, is that an A student (and I don't usually have many) is more often a hard-working, motivated average writer who's willing to keep working at getting it right than a bright but lazy good writer. Personally, if I were hiring, I'd rather have the first person...so I've never seen those "do-over" grades as inappropriate life training.

 

Of course, there are other circumstances where one test, one time might be the more appropriate way to assess learning. DS has that in ps where he takes two classes and gets A's without much effort.

 

All in all, as high school progresses, I think, honestly, I'll match grades to standardized test scores.... I've taught too long to believe that there's any such thing as an objective grade. Too many things, from preparation to wording on tests to the student's state of mind that day get in the way.

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I grade many things by giving a grade that sticks the first go-round, and some things by allowing for second chances and splitting the difference later. My son is in 9th grade, and I am aiming for him to be able to learn from these do-over experiences so that he will be able to have the ratio of first-time grades growing as time progresses.

 

I just really like how you put it, Nan. And, maybe if there is a background of adaptability and flexibility in a child's life, he or she will be the kind of colleague/boss that will support and encourage the best in others, rather than being uber-competitive and rigid in perspective.

 

My kids also have their share of "too bad" moments. Many of them come from me.

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I try hard to avoid that kind of circling back, too.

-Nan

 

 

Nan, I'm just replying here to all your recent posts. You got me thinking. The courses I did best in in university were thinking courses that didn't involve regurgitation of facts, but application of thinking or theory learned in the classes. This is why one of my favourite Biology profs was considered very hard by most of the Biology majors I knew who were smart, but were also good at memorizing and had trouble at that point taking theory (specifically ecological and later ethological) and applying it to unfamiliar situations. I probably should have majored in Philosophy or something like that. I'm a firm believer in the multiple intelligence theory, whether or not it's exactly correct as stands. Grading doesn't always address this, which is my quandary. If dd manages to score well on testing, I may not put grades on her transcript in the end at all, but that may depend on which universities/colleges she chooses to apply to as well.

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In TN you have several options for homeschooling high school. I believe that all of these options require giving at least letter grades. So, as far as I know, if I homeschool high school in TN, there are some subjects I must teach and come up with some grade to insert next to them. If I didn't have to come up with grades, I probably wouldn't. :glare: At least this is how I feel today.

 

If my high schooler truly did not understand a subject, regardless of whether it was graded or ungraded, then I simply wouldn't put it on his transcript. We may drop it altogether if it the class was unnecessary or I may let him keep working on it but not count it as a credit until the next semester or year. College students are allowed to withdraw from classes. They are also allowed to keep their books, review their notes, and take the class again another semester.

I hope that my dc's grades give them an honest feel for how well they will do in the community college classroom their jr/sr years and then how well they will do in college. In this regard, I feel that their grades are as much for them as for the college admissions office.

FWIW, my oldest ds is graduating this year and has a number of C's on his transcript. The coursework needed to be finished. He wanted or needed the subject on his transcript. He was only willing to do mediocre work, so he received C's.

 

Mandy

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Several thoughts on grading...

 

The Montessori school that my son attended through sixth grade did not give grades. "Grade reports" or whatever you would call them were very detailed forms on objectives attempted, progress made. It was very rare for a child to attain "mastery" of a specific skill set since children master the steps within the skill set and not the complete skill during elementary years. (For example, a child may know simple division, but not "master" division until after conquering long division with remainders.) So assessments, based on a 1-5 scale, usually had 3's and 4's, sometimes 1's when a concept was newly introduced.

 

This system did not transfer to letter grades so there was inevitably confusion for those students who moved from the Montessori school to the tradition public school. Where were the 5's? That was what the public school wanted to see at the end of each year.

 

This situation, in my mind, sums up the problem that many of us as parent/educators face. If we buy a boxed curriculum with quantitative tests, it may be easier to generate a percentage and say "Billy has a B, Mary Lou an A". But what if we don't. What if we are educators who plant a lot of seeds. Educators who attempt to expose our students to ideas in the Great Conversation but do not test on Every Little Thing. My son has read some political philosophy in every year of high school. We talk about Plato, Hobbes, Marx but I have never tested him on this subject. He did write a paper on some aspect of Plato's Republic, but personally I think discussion is more valuable. My son has only dipped his toe in political philosophy. From my perch, this is equivalent to that old Montessori "1". This does not mean he has failed--there is just so much to learn and I have felt that my job at this point is about exposing him to ideas and their development.

 

It is easier for me to crank out a numeric grade in math, but then I have decades of experience in this sort of assessment.

 

Latin was easier for me to grade when the material was grammar driven. When my son began studying Latin Literature last year, I was out of my league. I hung my head repeatedly thinking that I had failed this kid as we struggled with the nuance of poetry and rhetoric. How could I accurately assess his performance when I had no idea what his performance should be to meet an A or a B? My son is now taking AP Latin with a qualified teacher and has a high A average (for which he works very hard, I will note). So maybe that A that I gave in Latin Literature was valid? Maybe that head banging on brick walls that we did last year paid off as he is the student who goes the extra mile?

 

Perhaps I am just hoping that outside grades (CC, virtual course and AP scores) will verify my version of the story.

 

Something else comes out of this. My son does not see himself as a number. (Anyone else a fan of the old British television series, The Prisoner? "I am not a number! I am a free man!) He is the first to note that test variation can lead to dips in standardized test scores. He knows that his broader experiences which homeschooling allowed him to enjoy make him different than most of this friends from traditional schools. And I am so glad that he did not need the carrot of an A to motivate him in these opportunities. This is the sad part of the modern American educational system--it seems that some students only do things when the material is on The Test. By de-emphasizing The Test, we have created a more interesting Individual who is not a number or defined by the numbers.

 

Jane (who is really giving herself a pep talk as she worries about her son's college apps)

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When asked, I usually say yes I grade. But, now that I am doing the actual transcript I find myself doubting my grades. For science and math, there are quizzes, and tests. That is easy to grade. History gets a little foggier. He does do papers at the end of each book, usually. But, truly the bulk of the time is spent on discussion. Lst year for Latin we didn't do any quizzes. And this year's Economics is mainly reading and discussion. So, most of what I grade is the discussion time. Now, I'm wondering if I should have thrown more quizzes in. But the Economics book (he chose the book and said he wanted to do it) doesn't have quizzes. And what we are doing seems to be working. He is learning. We are enjoying the journey. But when you have to start filling in all the spaces for College Apps, I wonder if giving my son an A for talking with me a and reading isn't grade inflation.

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Something else comes out of this. My son does not see himself as a number. (Anyone else a fan of the old British television series, The Prisoner? "I am not a number! I am a free man!)

 

 

I haven't seen the series; however, my husband and daughter (your future daughter-in-law) are big fans.

 

Try to stop worrying, Jane. All will be well.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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I haven't seen the series; however, my husband and daughter (your future daughter-in-law) are big fans.

 

Try to stop worrying, Jane. All will be well.

 

Regards,

Kareni

 

Making a public announcement, eh?

 

As usual, I thank you for your reassuring words.

 

Jane

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children master the steps within the skill set and not the complete skill during elementary years. (For example, a child may know simple division, but not "master" division until after conquering long division with remainders.)

 

Where were the 5's? That was what the public school wanted to see at the end of each year.

 

My son has only dipped his toe in political philosophy. From my perch, this is equivalent to that old Montessori "1".

 

It is easier for me to crank out a numeric grade in math, but then I have decades of experience in this sort of assessment.

 

Latin was easier for me to grade when the material was grammar driven. When my son began studying Latin Literature last year, I was out of my league.

 

Jane, thank you for explaining all that. It took a bit of mystery away. So....high school can still be a content vs. skills thing, and if you want to "grade" a content subject, it's a little more thought-work or a matter of outsourcing to someone really knowledgeable of the subject, yes?

 

daughter (your future daughter-in-law)

 

:lol:

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Jane, thank you for explaining all that. It took a bit of mystery away. So....high school can still be a content vs. skills thing, and if you want to "grade" a content subject, it's a little more thought-work or a matter of outsourcing to someone really knowledgeable of the subject, yes?

 

 

 

I believe so.

 

The thought has also occurred to me that it is tremendously hard for someone like me to grade a high school student on literary interpretation. As with most forms of art, we bring our life experiences to the work. High schoolers may not realize the great humor of Austen, for example, if those awkward moments in the comedy of manners are not part of their experience. (They were not for me. I truly did not appreciate those scenes until I had a few more years of living under my belt.) So we read, we talk. I have my son write about some aspect and offer his conjectures; often, I must try to draw out his observations which are not readily clear even to him. Of course the grading of these written assignments is quite subjective.

 

It brought me comfort to hear my son's AP Latin instructor also comment that each of us interprets Great Art differently, so of course his students would and should see different things in The Aeneid. He does not expect his students to read or understand the epic in the same manner.

 

Which brings me back to one of my original ideas: is not much of high school about exposure?

 

Jane

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This is the sad part of the modern American educational system--it seems that some students only do things when the material is on The Test. By de-emphasizing The Test, we have created a more interesting Individual who is not a number or defined by the numbers.

 

Jane (who is really giving herself a pep talk as she worries about her son's college apps)

:iagree: I was never motivated by good grades (too bad, one one hand, because I would have actually studied, which would have been a good skill to develop) but have always been motivated by topics that interest me.

 

I also agree with the poster who talked about doing something until you get it right--that's more important than giving up once an assignment is done and graded.

 

I haven't seen the show, but "I am not a number" might have been my motto, I think, had I known that when I was a teen. I hated having to conform, yet always wanted to have lots of friends (a couple of times I managed to do both, depending on where I lived.) On the other hand, having friends was more important than being smart (ie having better grades.)

 

That last bit is a round about way of saying that I like to be an individual, which is one of thing things I like about homeschooling.

 

I have officially decided that I'm in way over my head with Geometry and don't have a clue how dd's Dressler proofs will be graded because there's nothing in the answer key for the proof questions, although it does come in very handy for the other questions. I can't see giving dd a grade if I can't grade her proofs, but I do see great growth in her reasoning skills.

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Sigh. Another word I use all the time but I don't think I've ever written. It looks pretty strange. But anyway...

 

So many parenting things are like this. Take packing, for instance. Both I and my cousin have dragged our children all over the place from the time they were little. And both of us, to simplify things, have let our children pack themselves. I, however, run down a checklist before we leave. My cousin doesn't bother. He says that it didn't take many weekends without a sweatshirt before his children remembered to pack one. I suppose that is true, but it would never work in our family. In our family, when the child got cold, my husband or I would give them our sweatshirt. There is no way that either of us would sit there nice in warm in our sweatshirt and not share. I used to worry that I wasn't enforcing natural consequences and, wasn't following all that good parenting advice, until I saw my oldest, when he was about 10, giving his sweatshirt to his little cousin when she was cold and going cold himself. We seem to get ourselves into these dilemas over and over again, ones where we have to choose between letting our children learn the consequences of their actions by suffering, and modeling compassion, generosity, cooperation, unselfishness, or sharing. I don't think we'll know whether we've chosen rightly until our children are have finished their lives, probably. Sigh.

-Nan

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Anyone use pass/fail on transcripts for some subjects?

 

Yes, I am for French (since I was learning this along with my son, I felt that I could not objectively grade it). But I will note that my son also has Latin with grades on the transcript. He has a P for Phys Ed/Health, another P for a fractional credit project. I suspect that I will also give him a P for his senior project.

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I organized the transcript according to subject, and I mixed the CC classes in with our homegrown classes. (Class is misleading - we did lots of work, and then in the end, when I wrote the transcript, I looked at the work and divided it up into year or half-year chunks of a particular subject and gave it a descriptive title.) Because I wanted to show the CC grades next to the CC classes, I had a column for grades. I didn't want to leave the column blank next to all our homegrown classes, so I filled those in with P's. In the school profile, I explained why we couldn't organize the transcript by year, and why I hadn't given grades.

 

There wasn't much possibility of F's because our homeschooling wasn't organized in a credits-attempted/credits-completed-in-a-certain-amount-of-time way. I do recognize that colleges need some way to compare my sons' high school work to the work their normal applicants complete in school, so I provided a transcript which translated our flexible homeschooling work into school language. We didn't do school-at-home, and I was honest aobut that in the application paperwork my son sent to college. I've heard a number of people on this board say that colleges don't like to see pass-fail, but I did it anyway to make the transcript look neat. I have no idea how widely this transcript would be accepted. My son used it at one state college and they accepted it without a peep. As far as I can tell, they were only interested in his CC classes and whether his brother, who was already there, was doing ok. He had two semesters of CC grades in English, math, and science, and I guess that was enough for them to weigh what sort of student he was. (I am very grateful to the admissions person who suggested I do this.)

 

-Nan

Edited by Nan in Mass
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We are choosing between modeling desirable behaviour, or modeling the worser realities of real life.

 

I guess we all do both, but I tend to lean towards the modeling of desirable behaviour rather than modeling realities. I model real life when I drag my son out of bed every morning to do school, and do school every weekday, but I know this also lets us accomplish the school work in the most efficient way, allowing us to move on to other non-school things, or I might think twice about it. I say might, because I also know that in waking him up early, I am building habits which I think will help him in the future. We do homework in the evening not because is mimics a situation he will have to deal with for four years of his life in college, but because he needs a break after about 2, he needs to get outside in the daylight, and I've discovered that some subjects don't work if we only look at them once a day. In not giving grades or not refusing to give my sweatshirt to a cold child, we are modeling desirable behaviour. My children have a tendency to detect fake real situations and point out that our house is supposed to be a haven from worser realities of the world. As I said before, it doesn't seem to made them less able to deal with the real world when they have to, but I think that might be because they have had to deal with real world realities frequently since they were little. They have much more patience with natural realities than the reality of the selfishness and self-absorbness of mankind. (I'm not saying they are perfect, unselfish being, either GRIN. They are perfectly normal boys.)

 

Just thinking aloud. I think this is what the grading issue all comes down to. It is something I keep having to re-decide, so I'd love more input.

 

-Nan

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I agree with both of you Momof7 and Barb. While we certainly want to teach mastery, there is merit in having the student learn how much studying is required to test well the first time. Also in teaching the reality of deadlines and doing one's best on projects and papers. Hmmm. The mom who posed the question has probably not yet had a 14-yo boy. Just sayin'.

 

Lisa

 

I was quoting another homeschool mom. I did/do not agree with that line of thought. Believe me, my 13 yo DS will not have straight A's in high school unless things change drastically between now and then. :tongue_smilie:

 

Oh, wait. I realized you may not have been referring to me. Sorry!

Edited by Rhonda in TX
whoops!
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What about grading for m/s/g?

 

I'm reading this question two ways:

 

- "What did SWB say about grading for m/s/g?"

- "How do you grade for m/s/g?"

 

So, I'll just tell you what my conference notes said, in answer to the first, in case that's what you mean.

 

"You want essays to grow out of child's reading. Evaluation: You can evaluate for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The writing doesn't have to be high quality, just get child used to doing it - going through the process."

 

This was the advice if you are evaluating papers yourself - she also mentioned the options of an outside evaluation. This parent-evaluation bit was also mentioned within the context of having the child write two or three one-page essays a week, from his reading, and within the context of learning and practicing rhetoric skills. I just mention that because I know everyone structures weekly/monthly writing differently. I think she is assuming that if the child is writing one-page essays a couple of times a week, and is being evaluated on m/s/g, the m/s/g will improve.

 

EDIT: It was also said within the context of preparing kids for college-level writing. It seemed to me to be more about practice, practice, practice, rather than continually grading an end-product. Completely guessing here, but I'm guessing that grading end-products (of writing) will come soon enough in college/university...so I guess all that practice will come in handy.

Edited by Colleen in NS
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Yes, that is what I meant. I don't grade papers, but we do reread them and talk about them. I don't say much, usually, except point out the bits I like and the bits I find confusing. Usually my sons make their own suggestions of what to improve. At the end, I say, "You had a few technical problems," and we talk about the m/s/g. I guess it must work because I keep pointing things out and they have definately improved over time. They aren't perfect, but they have improved. Didn't she say something about nibbled to death by ducks?

-Nan

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Hi all,

I have a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school. Both homeschooled for their entire school careers. I don't do grades except for high school classes that go on the transcript. I kept records for my oldest, but never did a transcript or grades for each class. Then, I had to get them all together. I averaged test scores, labs, etc. He came out with straight As in classes where I had things to grade. I was afraid no one would believe it coming from me.... Then I had the dilemna of figuring out what to do in the classes where he just worked on what I told him to do, with no test scores. I will preface that both of my kids do (did) what I give them to do, if they fuss, it is usually because I gave too much, or wasn't clear enough on the assignment. This is what I came up with: If my kids do all I give them to do in a reasonable length of time, make deadlines, tell me well ahead of time if my deadline is unreasonable, and do a good job, I give them As. It just isn't fair to give them lower and not have given them the chance to get a better grade. That being said, it does help for them (now just her) to know what is expected for each grade assigned so she can put the effort she needs to get the grade she wants. My son did get a nice SAT score, and except for three classes he took in his freshman year that were over his head, does make close to all As. So for us, the grades were not off.

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Yes, that is what I meant. I don't grade papers, but we do reread them and talk about them. I don't say much, usually, except point out the bits I like and the bits I find confusing. Usually my sons make their own suggestions of what to improve. At the end, I say, "You had a few technical problems," and we talk about the m/s/g. I guess it must work because I keep pointing things out and they have definately improved over time. They aren't perfect, but they have improved. Didn't she say something about nibbled to death by ducks?

-Nan

 

 

I think that grading for m/s/g is a great way to start off, and what I ought to do. My problem is, and I figured this out after reading the intro to an editing type book once, is that I have some of the personality traits of a publishing editor, and am always trying to work on things like voice, semanitics, etc, etc, which are not what my dc need to work on at this point. Of course, for my eldest, it means she'll get good grades, since her spelling and grammar are virtually flawless, and basic mechanics aren't that hard, although that's where she could use some help first. Perhaps it's also from being a piano teacher and working on so many things at once with young students (although not everything; but there's a LOT to playing classical music which is my background so I can't say about other types of piano learning) that I have a hard time reducing what I'm working on with writing to just a couple of things because there's so much to writing well.

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I can see why being a classical teacher would cause problems.

Whenever I've tried to work on non-techinical things, I find out with what care my children have chosen their wording and made all those decisions. They explain why they did things the way they did, and although they haven't always succeeded, I am impressed with their awareness. After awhile, I decided that we would all be better off if I just had them read their writing aloud and tell me what worked and didn't work, and then fix it if they felt like it. I confine my comments to the technical details and occasionally pointing out where I found something awkward or confusing. I also look at whether they have followed the directions or not, but even that isn't very useful because if they haven't, they are unwilling to change it to meet the specifications. We are better off working on what they did write and then having them try again with a different paper. I have never managed to get them to rewrite and rewrite. I know that is important, but I don't think as a mother I am in a good position to do this.

-Nan

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I can see why being a classical teacher would cause problems.

Whenever I've tried to work on non-techinical things, I find out with what care my children have chosen their wording and made all those decisions. They explain why they did things the way they did, and although they haven't always succeeded, I am impressed with their awareness. After awhile, I decided that we would all be better off if I just had them read their writing aloud and tell me what worked and didn't work, and then fix it if they felt like it. I confine my comments to the technical details and occasionally pointing out where I found something awkward or confusing. I also look at whether they have followed the directions or not, but even that isn't very useful because if they haven't, they are unwilling to change it to meet the specifications. We are better off working on what they did write and then having them try again with a different paper. I have never managed to get them to rewrite and rewrite. I know that is important, but I don't think as a mother I am in a good position to do this.

-Nan

 

 

This is why at some point I hope to get someone else to teach my dd better writing skills. I'm going to work on finding out just what mechanics entails, and when we do English & History starting in Feb, that's what I'll grade this year in any papers I have her do. I'm not sure if this particular dd would be able to stand having me read her papers aloud or not, but I'm sure with at least one of my others I'll be able to do this. Thanks!

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