Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Word About Grades

***This is somewhat lengthy, but I wanted to make sure my message was delivered as clearly as possible!***

Each year as we improve or change or whatever new thing we are doing happens, there comes with that certain things that we have to change or improve as well.

The last few years I have placed a larger emphasis on individual student performance; this year those playing test grades have been counted as part of the overall grade for class.  This is in keeping with the increased accountability that is expected of all of us recently, as well as the idea that if you're in band, you should be in motivated at least a little to become a better player.

I don't, however, want everyone to suddenly be failing band, or negate all of the other quality work that goes on in the classroom.  Here is how things work for grades, in case you need a refresher:

There are four main categories - Daily performance (how students prepare and perform on a daily basis in class; do they have instruments, are they collaborating and cooperating with the teacher and other band members, etc.), outside of class rehearsals (like Monday nights in the fall), performance attendance (concerts, etc.), and playing tests.

They are weighted  - 
    Daily - 25%
    Playing Tests - 25%
    Performances - 40%
    Outside rehearsals - 10%

For the period that just ended last week, there were NO performances!  This is the first time in just about forever that this has happened during any term of the school year.  This left two grade categories - playing tests and daily performance.  Since both are treated with equal weight, a student who may perform very well in class but not on individual assessments may have received a lower overall grade than would be "fair."

After THAT, we need to average the 3rd and 4th nine weeks' grades.  And that is where trouble would start due to the fact that there were no performances last term.  (A student receiving a "C" due to a botched playing test, which was then averaged with an "A" for fourth marking period due to lots of performances, may still end up receiving a "B" for the semester.)

SO...  I have reset the grade book to do what we call "running grades."  This means that, while there will be a grade given for the 3rd nine week period, the points will actually carry over from 3rd to 4th nine weeks and all be averaged together for a final semester grade.  This should help everyone who is in that area of having a low playing test grade that has affected his/her nine week grade.  

 - This MAY NOT help those students who simply have not turned in playing tests.  Those are marked as "missing," and that has brought students' grades down to a failing level.
 - Students MAY re-submit the same test for a higher grade.

Questions?  Let me know - kwalker@zps.org