Archive for December, 2013


December 18, 2013

Finals started today and continue through Friday.  Since I have been teaching high school, I have been using an online program to give my final.  I like it because I don’t have to run scantrons and the students get to see their score immediately.  Another advantage is that the program randomizes the questions and answer choices.  I love it and would recommend it.

There was an unforeseen consequence that I didn’t realize until today.  Last year, I did not have a single student fail my class for the semester.  Not so much this semester.  I have several students who are going to fail and most of them are in my AP classes.  So when students see their final exam grade and realize that they are going to fail the class, it is not good.

I had one boy start to cry.  I had a girl crying and I looked at her score and her grades and the only thing I can think of is that she was upset because this class is going to be her only B.  I didn’t speak to her, because I don’t do well around crying people (and also babies, but I don’t know how much that has to do with the crying).

I had one kid who I knew was going to fail.  This was the kid whose mother I made cry.  In order to pass the class, he needed an 87 on the final (actually a little less with rounding).  He scored in the mid-40s and ended up with a 66 for the semester.  He asked me if he could retest.  Normally, we have to allow students to retest for up to a 70, but not for finals.  I told him no and he was upset.  He was pleading and arguing. 

I asked him if he turned in his review (for extra credit on the exam).  He said that he didn’t have time to finish it and wanted to turn it in tomorrow.  I said no.  I made in clear in class and it was written in the instructions that it had to be turned in before the start of the exam.  There is no point in completing a review after the exam.  He continued to plead and argue (and later went to his assistant principal and asked).  He finally said, “you are making me feel like a dumb ass.”  I wanted to say, “no, you are doing fine with that on your own.”  I didn’t.  I walked away.

I guess that I could be very nice and let him retest.  If I let him retest to a 70, that won’t be enough.  If I let him retest for full credit, that will likely not be enough either.  In the past I have given him his test to study and given him the same test as a retest (with the questions scrambled) and he has still never passed a test.  What I am most afraid of is letting him retest and him getting very close to passing for the semester.  Then there is pressure to bump his grade up.  With the 66, the pressure is not there.

I feel bad that I have kids who failed.  This is the first time ever that I have had a student who did not earn credit for the class, even when I taught middle school.  It had to happen eventually, although, it will be worse when it happens for the first time in the spring, when the kid doesn’t graduate. 

I do not feel too bad for this kid though.  He failed the first two six weeks (one of them with a 60). He did pass this six weeks, but not enough to make for the 60.  I spoke to both him and his mom about moving him out of AP and into a regular class and they both said no.  The counselor spoke to mom as well.  One of the assistant principals told me that if they are refusing the help, then we will need to let him live with the failing grade if (or really when) it happens.

I am going to have to call his mom again to let her know.  I am not looking forward to that.  I am going to call her on Friday afternoon, so she can’t ask me to give him a retest or (extra) extra credit.



My colleague…

December 18, 2013

This year, we have a bigger senior class, so we have another government teacher.  He teaches regular government and I have a few sections.  I thought it would be a blessing, but sometimes I feel like it is more of a curse. 

He has taught government before and he is passionate about the subject, but I still do most of the work, in addition to the work I do for my AP classes.  Also, he is a coach.  There are some coaches who are great teachers, but as you may know from high school, they are in the minority.

Yesterday, a student came in to retake a test for him during lunch when he wasn’t there.  She walked away with the test (the teacher who had lunch tutorials told me, I don’t know how or why this happened while she was there, but that is a different story).  I told him and he said that she turned in the test to him and got a 100.  She had scored a 35 on the original test.  He said that he was going to give her a 70 on the test (which is the max score on a retest).  He said it was too much trouble to do anything about it.  I was appalled.  I spoke to the girl’s assistant principal and she said she can’t do anything unless he reports it as a cheating issue.

And then things got worse today.

Finals started today.  We were reviewing in the classes that didn’t test today and I realized that he posted the answers to the review.  Normally, I would have done the same myself, so the kids can check their work.  However, the review counts as extra credit on their final exam.  This meant that the kids can just go online, copy the answers, and get the extra credit without any effort.  I confronted him about it and he said that most of his kids didn’t turn it in and their scores were terrible on the final.  Well, that is because they didn’t learn anything from the review.  I am interested to see how the scores will compare on our final exams.