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Friday, August 05, 2011

Diversity is great except when it comes to doing homework

In my county, "reformers" want to institute a new homework policy that would mandate that teachers give students up to five days to hand in late assignment with the penalty for being late capped at only 10%. Students should also be allowed to take retests and have their higher score used in their grade. And they want to cut back on the amount of homework and how much it counts.

And why is there a need for a countywide policy for how teachers use homework in their classes? It just seems so unfair that different teachers have different policies.
Administrators have justified the need for changing grading practices by pointing to how inconsistently grades are handed out now.

For instance, teachers of the same subject at a school might have different policies on late assignments, how much to count retests and whether to issue extra credit.
Once again, we see the tendency to write a blanket rule instead of letting teachers use their own discretion. And we see the lack of trust in administrators to administer their own schools.

Having diversity is all well and good unless it's on homework policy. For example, for some subjects it might be easy to write a new test. I know that a math teacher at my school regularly offers retests. He claims that it doesn't take much time to take the same questions and insert new numbers into them. However, it takes me several hours to write a test. Since I teach Advanced Placement subjects, I give the students lots of practice with the type of multiple choice questions they'll face on the A.P. exam. It takes a lot of time to write decent multiple choice questions with good disguisers that don't make the right answer too obvious, but that test a student's mastery of the point I'm testing. There is no way I could put together two tests for each unit. Students either study and do well, or they pay the consequences. Hopefully, they'll learn the lesson that "luck" favors the prepared mind.

That's my testing philosophy, but I recognize that other teachers find a different policy fits their material and teaching style. But it just doesn't seem fair to these reformers that some teachers have different approaches.

What lunacy! For the ten thousandth time, I'm so glad to be teaching at a charter school where our administration has more respect for the teachers that they've hired. Their approach is to hire dedicated, smart people and then let them do their jobs. Good things will follow. It might be different in different classes, but children will also learn that not everything in life will be the same. Learning to adapt is also an important skill. Having to adapt to different homework policies is not such a big deal in the scheme of things.


Greg said...

Betsy -- don't you understand that diversity is only a good thing when it comes to things like skin color, sexual orientation, and the like? When it comes to other matters -- diversity of ideas, diversity of opinions, diversity of conduct -- it is a bad thing, because the Left expects everyone to be diverse in exactly the same way.

Gahrie said...

I was just told yesterday that I have to offer my students a chance to re-test, I have to give them two weeks to make up missing assignments, classwork and homework can be no more than 30% of their grade, no assignment or assessment that is "reasonably" (whatever that means) attempted can be given a grade less than 55%, and a "D" is now any grade between 51% and 69%.

Jus'Kidding said...

I teach Adult Basic Education and the whole class is a preparation for the five tests required for a GED. I present lessons, assign worksheets, help everyone work through the concepts, and provide all the answers to anyone who wants them. Some pick it up fast and some struggle. Some will never get their GED, but they seem to keep coming back.

No grades, only a final goal. Many never believed they could ever do it after failing in public education, where 6 of 10 who start in kindergarten in our district manage to graduate.

That's a D grade in my book.