Thursday, September 23, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences and Mrs. Algebra

Parent Teacher Conferences were held last night at my son's school.  Before crowding ourselves into the gymnasium we were given his progress report.  All A's and and A minus except for Algebra 2 and Digital Photography.  Those were C's.  Imagine my dumbfounded expression when I see an A in Biology and a C in Digital Photography. 

We headed straight for the photography teacher.  Apparently there was an assignment she hadn't entered in yet and a test on Photo Shop that the kids all have to retake - Austin had one of the highest scores. She assured us that he should have an A after those are entered and completed.

Next on the radar was Mrs. Algebra teacher.  I am not sure I am going to like her. My blood pressure became slightly elevated as she went into an explanation of her grading system.  Before grading an assignment, she randomly selects 4 or 5 problems that she will check because "I don't have time to check them all."  Each assignment is worth 20 points, so if the kids miss one of her randomly selected problems their grade drops 4 or 5 points.  If they miss two it drops by half.  If they miss three - well, hell, they shouldn't have even bothered to spend an hour plus on the 20 to 30 problems they were assigned. 

My son's grade isn't due to poor assignment grades, it is due to his horrible test score on the one test they have had so far. But I am still irked at her grading system.  My reasons: 1-It isn't fair to the students to be graded on such a small portion of their assignments. 2- By not assessing all of the problems there is a chance she is overlooking an equation or concept the kids are struggling with. 3-When the students are given back their work, they don't see all of the problems they answered incorrectly.  In which case, they are unable to go back and try to discover what they did wrong.

I understand time constraints but I don't think is a fair and correct solution.

Her recommendation is for my son to attend the Math Labs.  They are held everyday, either before or after school.  Hers are two mornings a week  from 6:45 to 7:45.  I am all about my son getting a little extra help but right now isn't a great time for him to be going to Math Lab.  Until October 1st, he has driver's education after school until 5.  If he adds a math lab in the morning, it makes for one heck of a long day, not including nightly homework.  He also has a part in the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night which means after driver's ed completes he will have play practice after school. 

For right now, my son's dad has offered to tutor him in the concepts he is struggling with.  This will be very interesting.  Hopefully, it will work without destroying their relationship.  If not, then, Math Lab here he comes.


M-Cat said...

I think I'd be for following up on the grading system. It doesn't seem educational in any sense. Take the "fairness" out of the equation since we all know life isn't fair, but you bring up some valid points about her approach to grading.
And can I say that I am SO GLAD to be done with all this??? OY! Parent teacher conf's were the WORST for me!

just call me jo said...

Ugh! I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach just remembering those days. First of all, I was always told not to "bother" grading everything I assigned kids. Told to just grade 1/4 of what I gave them. I NEVER could do that. I spent hours grading papers because of just the reasons you mentioned. How CAN a teacher know what a kid is getting or not getting if you don't check it all? I realize that English is different than math, but it seems that math is even more crucial for individual problems. It's all black or white with math. Why doesn't the teacher work out some system of checking in class or something so they can be sure they got the other problems right besides the random ones she checks. I was always bad at testing so I usually dreaded tests. I hope things work out. Education is frustrating as a teacher and as a student. I'm sorry.

Amy said...

Jo - I thought the same thing about checking in class.

Cynthia said...

I remember my 11th grade English teacher telling us we would NOT be writing any essays in our class because she wasn't paid enough to grade them. Nice! Thank goodness my AP History teacher wasn't as lazy as the English teacher was. That woman needed to get a new profession.

I think #2 is an especially valid point (they're all good but #2 is the one you win on with the Principal if a meeting like that becomes necessary).