Sunday, February 1, 2009

What's In a Grade?

I need to do report card grades. I've been working pretty diligently this weekend, attempting to grade the flotsam and jetsam still hanging around from this past marking period and tearing my hair out over a few of my most precious children.

The good news: DK is going to pass. In fact, he's going to do a little better than pass. I don't think I've mentioned DK here yet, though I have mentioned his mom. DK's extremely involved (again, I mean this in a good way) mom will probably ensure that nothing too tragic happens to him academically, but DK also has a bad attitude about school from time to time. I hate to think that DK is posturing for his friends, because he's a pretty smart kid with some good insights about literature and some motivation to do good work, but I suspect that he is trying to make himself seem tougher than he is. Nevertheless, DK worked quite a bit harder this marking period, and he earned the improved grade he will see on his report card grade. I hope the trend continues.

The better news: Although I don't believe in giving grades of 100 on report cards, I might have to revise my policy. My friend F (you know, the kid who sells volcano insurance) has an average above 100 in social studies, since he took a project that I assigned and significantly expanded it, even though I didn't say I'd give extra credit for it. He just did it because he was interested in the subject. This kid is unbelievable. Trust when I say that every single day I thank God that this kid is in my life.

The bad news: S and E are in dire, dire straits. I offered them one more option to turn around their respectively sinking ships, which I gave them the weekend to do. But I've been in touch with their parental figures frequently, I've spoken to them individually, I've offered to spend lunches and before/after school time to help them, I've differentiated both process and product for them...nothing. It's like the message still isn't getting through. You'd think they'd notice, after the first marking period, that I don't mess around with kids who don't try. Also, you'd think that they'd notice that if they hand in ANYTHING, I'll make them pass. These two are mostly represented by long strings of zeroes in my grade book.

The worse news: There are two kids who have failing averages and I didn't think they were doing that badly. I don't know how I wasn't monitoring their progress closely enough to notice that they were about to flunk, but they are. The even worse part is that they're regular education girls, not the acting-out special-education boys who obviously eat up lots of my time and attention. I feel like I've made a classic and stupid mistake by not alerting these girls and their families soon enough to their situations, and I don't know what to do now. I feel terribly. They are sweet kids and, frankly, one girl is just lazy, but the other struggles a lot and I know I haven't been supporting her enough. I need to change that in the coming days.

I hate doing grades, in case you can't tell.