Weird 'grading' system!

Momma_Bird_OHNovember 14, 2002

My oldest DS is in second grade. We had our teacher conference on Tuesday, and his teacher just RAVED about how great he's doing. On the quarterly district reading and math test, he scored 100% in math and 98% in reading. She showed us reams of his classwork that were 98% and 100%. We left the conference walking on air!

Report cards came home yesterday. His school doesn't give grades like A, B, C, etc. They have "O" for outstanding, "S" for satisfactory, and "I" for needs improvement. Along with O, S, and I, each area graded has a number score for effort, from 1 for great effort to 3 for needs to put more into it. DS's report card had S2 in every area except music, where he got 02. This is an "average" report card. If he's scoring 98% and 100% on every test, how can he get just S, and if he's doing so well, how can is effort score be just 2, which means average?

I am really upset about this, because he is trying so hard. He's really putting his all into homework and trying so hard to be "good" in class.

I plan to call the teacher today, but first wanted to see if any of you have experience with this silly grading system or know the criteria for how scores are assigned. TIA!

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Did she have scores on all his work, or did some of the work have the same O, S, I grading? I'm just trying to make sense of it. So I'm thinking maybe the test were for school records or something but not part of the grades? I don't know, just tossing out thoughts. If not, I think it is odd that they would put scores on the work when they don't translate them into a letter grade. I would think it would make more sense to be consistent and use the same system when marking papers that they use on the report card.

DS's school for K-2 used a similar format, they used S, N or U. Satisfactory, Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory. But on classwork, they used check, check+ or check-. So it translated, if you thought of checks as N. Then he started getting scores and letter grades in 3rd grade. The school here in TN does the same kind of thing. In 2nd, they would get some work with percentage scores, just to introduce the concept I think.

They didn't do that number for effort though, I think I might like that. (aside: I had the same math teacher all through HS, algebra through calculus, I usually got Cs in math, my worst subject. But he ALWAYS wrote "Stephanie is trying her best" or something like it. Made me feel SOOO much better, and kept me out of trouble with mom and dad, too!)

Anyhow, you wouldn't want to go through the entire school year wondering what all this means. You can probably handle this concern with a phone call to the teacher, then a follow up conference if it still doesn't make sense. You might was well get a straight answer on how the classwork grades get translated into report card grades.

How's the weather? I'll be in Delaware, Oh, for Thanksgiving (you know I'm a native). Last time was 2 years ago and it was so much colder than I remembered!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2002 at 11:41AM
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I meant to add that you can make sure your son understands the grades are not "who he is." That is just like the teacher writing a short note about he is doing to you. That you know he is doing well. Instead of talking about the scores, talk about where you see improvement and what that means about how hard he is working. Dont' let him get hung up on the report card, if it was all O-1's.

Still, he's probably disappointed that it doesn't look they way he expected it to. So you still deserve answers to better explain things to him.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2002 at 11:47AM
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I am assuming the district tests are standardized tests, not classsroom tests. (Standardized tests come in easy and hard forms.) He tests high, indicating he has good reading and math skills. It could be that these are easy tests and many of the students also score in the top decile. However, he may not be applying himself that much in his classwork to earn an O or a 1, even though he has demonstrated he has the ability. My youngest was my brightest. If he had received grades on his report card reflecting his standardized scores only, he would have earned a 4.0, but, alas, he did not tend to apply his greatest effort. Hope this helps

    Bookmark   November 16, 2002 at 10:49PM
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I agree with what everyone else has said- but I also wanted to add, that a lot of teachers don't want to give a child the highest grade for the first quarter, because kids tend to shut down and think that they don't have to keep working.

When I was teaching, I NEVER believed this, but after a few years, I discovered that a LOT of the students who had an A on their report card first quarter ended up getting a C or D for the second quarter. It's something psychological. When I'd give a student a B, they would keep working to get the A.

(Now don't get me wrong, if a child earned high 90's on every classroom assessment, then I'd give the A on the report card, of course!)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2002 at 3:10PM
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I think that the grading system seems MUCH better than the traditional ABCDF we have used, and still use of course. BUT, I am also the one who is completely against standardized tests!:) I think that we as parents depend way too much on report cards and grades, we shouldn't let our children believe that grades are the most important thing about school. There are more personal ways of assessment that recognize student's individuality. Anyway, I would like to hear what the teacher says about the grading system.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2002 at 11:48PM
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Thanks for all of your input. Stephanie, we are having unseasonably cold weather! Better bundle up for Thanksgiving! It's been in the 30's for about 2 weeks - brrrr! DS and I went around the neighborhood to sell Cub Scouts popcorn yesterday and we just about froze!

Just to clairify, all of DS' school work gets a percentage grade. He consistently gets 98 and 100% in all areas except spelling. The lowest score he's gotten (other than spelling) is 92% all year. Spelling is just not his "thing" - no kid can be great in all areas - he gets in the 80's in spelling.

Don't worry, I haven't let DS know what I think about his grade card. I just told him how proud I am and his teacher is of how much he is learning. I want him to focus on learning, not grades. He is learning so much and my personal philosphy is that it's my responsiblity to teach my children, with the school's help not vice versa. We probably spend as much time on learning activities as most home school families, but we make it fun so the boys don't know it's "good for them".

I'm just miffed beacuse I think the "grading" system is subjective. The percentage scores don't correlate into the grades.

I haven't called the teacher because I don't yet think I can be calm and positive. Several friends have told me to calm down, that it's kind of like work - where I work, there is a 3 tier "grading system" for reviews but no one ever gets the highest tier - it's an unwritten company rule that no one can ever get the top. No matter how hard you work, everyone get an average mark because that's what is in the budget for raises.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 9:23AM
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I think if I earned the highest, but was downgraded on purpose, that would hurt my motivation more than getting what I truly earned. I hope I never run into this type of grading when my DD gets to elementary school.

What kind of system downgrades a student's grade with the hopes of getting them to keep working hard? That's the best system they can come up with? Punish the good performers? Wow...this was enlightening and gives me something to keep my eye on.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 2:20PM
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That is most elementary schools don't use the numeric system.

Isn't all grading subjective, up until the high school level?

I remember being in high school and getting the grading scale, where 20% of the grade was "classroom participation." Even when I was fifteen years old, I knew that THAT part of the grade would depend on whether or not the teacher liked me!!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2002 at 3:59PM
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Using a non-numeric system is different than what was stated above, intentionally downgrading a good performer to hopefully keep their efforts high. I took the posts above to mean that even if a student gets graded on Sat, Needs Impr or Unsat, and they really were Sat, that some teachers give a grade of Needs Impr on purpose.

I think if you take tests, and earn grades, that the teachers have plenty of objective material from which to grade.

I will agree that the most subjective of the grading is the 'participating in class' or 'works well with others' or things like that.

Has elementary school changed so much that there are no more written math or spelling tests?

Oh, boy, I'm just glad to read this thread so I can make sure to keep my eyes open as DD progresses thru elementary school.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 7:35AM
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I have mixed feelings on the issue. Momma Bird--my elementary school used the same grading system. It was possible (and often happened0 to get an S1 meaning satisfactory/ needs improvment or a U3 meaning unsatisfactory/student doing his best. WHAT???
My own son--10 years old, 5th grade-- is in a gifted program. His teacher changed from 1,2,3,4 system to E (exceeds expectations) M (meets expectations) and N (needs improvement).
My son finished the entire 7th grade math book in 6 weeks and got a N in math! If he was being compared to other 5th graders obviously he would have received the highest grade possible. However, she gave him and N because, although it's easy for him and he moves fast, he puts very little effort into being accurate. So in that respect it is a fair grade and I think will definitely motivate him to be more careful. The sensitive mother bear in me is dying to come to his defense though. The issue is should kids be assessed based on our middle-of-the-road expectations of most students or should they be assessed on their individual abilities? If it was middle or high school, I would probably have a huge problem with this system, but since it is elementary school and the teacher is putting a BIG effort into personalizing her assessments of each student, I can appreciate that, too.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 3:51PM
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I guess I'm just a product of the 60's and 70's educational system. I LIKE having a percentage translate into a letter grade, e.g. 100%=A, 90%=B, etc. I don't like the "effort" - it's just too subjective. Just because something comes easy for a kid doesn't mean he's not putting effort into it, it just may LOOK like he's not putting much effort forth. I've decided to just keep my mouth shut until the second quarter grades come out, and not talk to the teacher yet.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 4:39PM
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Probably a good idea. Maybe the PTA ought to schedule a report from the principal on this topic. Might help.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 9:41PM
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Just wanted to give an update - I spoke with several other parents. Two boys are going to 3rd grade for math because they are so advanced in that subject, and they were given "S2" on their math grade!! Their moms were really concerned, too, about just how this teacher grades. If a 2nd grader is doing 3rd grade math work, how can he be given "average" as a score? We all agreeded we'd wait until the 2nd grading period scores came out to talk to the teacher and see if things get any better.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2002 at 10:55AM
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