She met the learning outcomes…but she doesn’t deserve to pass.

It is that time of year.  Some schools call it ‘evaluation’, some refer to it as ‘transition’, and others call it ‘adjudication’. Whatever the title, this week in high schools across BC, gatherings of teachers, councilors and admin will be held to determine the academic standing of students on the pass/fail bubble.

These conversations bring to the forefront a philosophical divide when encountering the “dilemma” of what to do with some at-risk students who either pass a given course, or come surprisingly  close to it.  In some cases the criteria for determining whether or not a student has shown sufficient evidence for competency around learning outcomes gets rather blurry.

Take the following scenario, which may or may not be from my own personal experience:

Claire, a 14 year-old grade 9 student, has missed a lot of school time, some of which certainly appears to be of her own making.  When she is not sick or skipping class, she clearly struggles socially and has few friends.  As her grade level administrator, I have met with her and her mother on numerous occasions, and besides my comments and questions, little else is offered by Claire or her mom. I have informed all of her teachers that there certainly appears to be issues within the family.  Claire’s mother never comes out for Parent-Teacher interviews and often excuses her daughter from missed classes for being ‘ill’.  Despite all the meetings and behavioural consequences like DTs for missed class, Claire’s behaviours have deteriorated.  Perhaps of little surprise, academic penalties for missed tests, late work and poor participation have not had the desired effect either.  In short, Claire has had a rather dismal year.

Her four terms in a linear Science 9 class have resulted in the following percentage grades and comments:

Term 1:     56             Claire needs to complete homework and improve attendance.

Term 2:     51            Greater participation would improve grade.

Term 3:     42            Missing assignments have resulted in a lower mark.

Term 4:     30            Missed classes and incompletes have resulted in failing mark.

Term Average: 44.75%                         Final  Exam: 65%

With the average of the four terms accounting for 80% of the final outcome and the exam the remaining 20%, Claire’s final course standing was 48.8%.

At our adjudication meeting, there are three possible outcomes for Claire.  For one, she could retake Science 9 in order to qualify for regular Science 10 and later be eligible for Chemistry 11, Physics 11 and Biology 11.  The second outcome could see her get an SG (Standing Granted) for Science 9, but this would relegate her to Science 10A and eventually the less academic stream of Science and Tech 11. Lastly Claire could enroll in 2 weeks of summer school, possibly boost her academic standing, and if she passed she could enroll in regular Science 10.

In a chance hallway meeting between Claire’s classroom teacher and myself, we struck up a conversation around the various outcomes for Claire.  Despite me mentioning that Claire clearly passed the final exam, it was obvious that the teacher was vehemently opposed to Claire be granted a passing grade based on the evidence to date.

We had the following conversation:

I asked, “Would you be open to counting the final exam as sufficient evidence to have Claire pass the Science 9 course?”

“Absolutely not,” the teacher responded.

“Why not?”

“She has a final mark of 48.8 percent and according to school policy that is not a pass.  She needs at least 50 percent overall.”

“But she did get well over 50 percent on the final exam,” I argued.

“The final exam makes up only 20 percent of the final grade.”

Pausing for a moment, I decided to explore another avenue.  I asked, “Is your final exam a comprehensive sampling of the course material?”

“I think it is a solid exam, and it covers all of our course,” the teacher replied.

I continued, “So, you do think it covers all of the learning outcomes?”


Perhaps in response to seeing the direction the conversation was about to take, the teacher countered, “She may have met the learning outcomes, but she does not deserve to pass.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“She has skipped way too many classes, she has missing assignments and she has a horrible attitude.  She needs to be taught accountability and the importance of coming to class.”

To be honest, I could not quite wrap my brain around the comment, ‘She may have met the learning outcomes, but she does not deserve to pass.’

From this conversation I propose the following points:

  1. Let Walmart, or whoever might employ her this summer, teach her that regular attendance and punctuality really matters.
  2.  If some universities, trades and other institutions reserve the right to use ONLY the outcome of a comprehensive exam to determine academic standing, could the teacher of a public school not also have this right?
  3. Given the arbitrary allocation of 80/20 term to exam weightings, would the result of these weightings not at best be a guideline to determining final course standing? (Had it been 60/40 like many provincial exams, she would have passed easily.)
  4. With so many variables impacting the regular course grade such as homework completion, attendance, family stability, hunger, poverty, social issues, maturity, drugs and alcohol, would a solid exam result not be considered especially valid to measure the extent to which a student does or does not meet the learning outcomes?
  5. Could we develop grading policies that allow teachers to use all tools at their disposal to determine the most accurate grade at any given time?
  6. Could we stop proposing that one established, and arbitrary, weighting system provides fairness to all?

Until this same time next year…

25 thoughts on “She met the learning outcomes…but she doesn’t deserve to pass.

  1. This is such an important point. I really hope you manage to convince this teacher that Claire should move onto the next level. (Btw, I hate “levels” in education).

    Please, teachers you need to recognize how arbitrary your grading systems are. They are not scientific measures of student learning! Repeat: Not Scientific.

    1. There are so many things that we cling to, in this case arbitrary course weigthings. Somehow these weightings have come into existence and I am quiite certain that no one really knows how they were derived, why the numbers were selected (80 term/20 exam) or where they were deemed important to hold onto.

      The list would be quite long:
      – often 10% is deducted for every day an assignment is late
      – 0% is the outcome for plagarism
      – provincial exams are 40% at grade 12 and 20% at grade 11.
      – at some schools, students who attain 80% term averages are excused from the final exam process
      – 50% is a pass…

      …again, who knows from which mountain these golden rules descended, but I do know that people feel bound by them and allow for their professional assessment of a situation to be bound completely.

  2. Sometimes I think that there is a concern by teachers that if we are too ‘easy’ on a few students that somehow this is going to result in all of our students slacking off. The worry is that the students as a whole will think ‘why put in the effort when they’ll pass you on to the next grade anyway?’ However, what do students learn in the scenario you’ve presented above? That even if you demonstrate on a final exam that you’ve mastered a reasonable amount of the course material that’s not good enough? I’m not sure that most grade 9 students have the maturity to look at this situation and say ‘well, I really better put in a better effort next time’. The message is that school is unjust. It would be more appropriate to hold back the student who showed up every day and put in a good effort, but only got 48%, than to hold back the ‘Claires’. Claire at least has demonstrated that she has the ability to handle the the concepts, and would be capable in Science 10.

    In the scenario above one of the quotes was; “She has skipped way too many classes, she has missing assignments and she has a horrible attitude. She needs to be taught accountability and the importance of coming to class.” These are all things that as teachers we are trying to teach our students. However a student’s grade in a course is supposed to be based on mastering the prescribed learning outcomes; none of the items on that list are part of the science 9 curriculum.

    Sadly, the frustrations of dealing with individual students sometimes get in the way of making the right decision for those students. It gets too personal.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    1. Good Morning, Claire. The choice of the name in my story was…arbitrary.

      Thanks for the thoughtful response. You are right in that we would be well-served to take a second look at the type of messages we send through our collective actions. A recent reply by Sandra Richardson speaks to the same type of misalignment of action/message.

      Referring to your comment, ‘These are all things [attitude, punctuality, etc…] that as teachers we are trying to teach our students.” – You are absolutely right and you touch on one of the things that i believe to be at the heart of the problem – teachers trying to do too much through grading. The modern teacher is called upon to be so many things: parent, coach, mentor, friend, counsellor, etc… The classroom is often the one solid piece of ground that so many of our at-risk students plant their feet. When these teachers feel a ‘life-lesson’ needs to be taught, they go back to (1) the only tools they feel are available, and (2) tools they themselves have observed being used.

      The goal is to provide replacement routines and choices to teachers as well as students. I think that when teachers fully realize their professional capacity, in large part by adhering only to learning outcomes when grading students, they will be in an even better position to also tackle the other life-lessons.

      Thanks for the reply.

  3. A thought provoking and great post – but frustrating as well. I totally agree with your observations and proposals.

    “She met the learning outcomes but deserves to fail”, I would argue, is malpractice. Hopefully this student would be given standing for Science 9 based on her exam results (and all the other reasons you listed).

    1. Thanks for the comment. I think in the land of our large neighbour to the south, being slapped with malpractice in a case like this is a very real possibility. Good luck winning the suit.

  4. There are no prereqs for Ministry-developed courses, so why can’t Claire just advance on to Science 10 regardless of the mark in Science 9? The School Regulation says that school principals are responsible for the “implementation of educational programs” and the “placing and programming of students in the school.” I think you have the right to say it is in her best interest to continue on to Science 10, regardless of her mark in Science 9.

    Teachers are professionals, but they are also human beings capable of making mistakes. I don’t think principals should feel bad about stepping in to do the right thing for the student. At the end of the year, teachers usually end up calling home because a few kids haven’t done enough work to pass the class. I know that happened to me a couple of times when I was a kid. The only difference between me and Claire is that my parents kicked my butt into gear and made me do enough make-up work before the end of the year to pass. Essentially, students like Claire are penalized for having poor home support, which seems completely backwards to me.

    1. Thanks for the comment Nick, and sorry about the tardy response. My tardiness may in fact completely negate the value of this response (ha ha). Anyway, in response to your comment, as one of my colleagues commented a while ago, ‘punitive grading practices is the double-jeoprady faced by at-risk learners’. She hit the nail on the head. Not only do these students face so many other challenges outside of school, but when they get to the classroom, they realize there too that the system will simply not work for them. Even of they do pass the exam, their attendance, attitude, effort and…disposition… will play into the academic equation. Not for a second do I not take these behaviours seriously, but I have yet to find a course where the government asks teachers to measure these behaviours in the final academic standing. As well, I believe that so many teachers have the best interest of the student in mind, but they would be well-served to lighten the load off their collective backs and not feel as though EVERYTHING need be reflected in the gradebook. That is what I mean by Walmart being left to teach them about punctuality. Enjoy what is left of the summer.

  5. I am not a high school teacher, so I don’t really understand the context of exam time. However, if the last two weeks of school were focused on meaningful summative assessments where students had choice in how to demonstrate adn apply their learning, would conversations like the one you had with the teacher be moot? The focus should be on learning, if students aren’t showing up for class, we need to look to the antecedents (like you have tried to do) and make changes to fit the student. Punishing her for learning the material is only going to further disengage her from school. Great post!!

    1. Hi Darcy, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      The last year that i taught History 12, I brought in significant levels of choice at the end of the year. For some students the final year-end project was to tackle an area of interest, and to use the words of my friend Jeremy, to ‘go deep into the topic and actually learn something, as the interesting parts ARE in the details.’ He’s right, ask anybody about his or her hobby, and they always talkl about the intrigate parts. I had a student choose to build a model Tiger tank, research the commander (Wittman), and then fit that commander into the larger themes of the course – perhaps an aspect of the summative task you speak of. The result was incredible, and a student who could not stop telling me what he had learned.

      Yes these cases can be rare, and some projects fell through for other students. If I had taught it one more year, I probably would have instituted a form of a final exam for all students in addition to the project, opening up a written, or drawn, element that allowed them to summarize a main theme of the course.

      Sadly, there are teachers, though rare as well, who decide as early as April that there is no chance that some students will pass. Once both the teacher and the student give up, all is lost.

      Thanks again.

  6. Those are the kind of circumstances that can lead to significant outcomes for Claire. While I agree that it is important for students to learn about social justice and personal empowerment in school, I generally do not agree with using behaviourism to instill these values (ie show up to class or I will fail you).

    You really hit the nail on the head about the arbitrary nature of grading, especially when it comes to weighting. That is a very important aspect of assessment. This is one reason why I like the idea of Standards Based Grading, as it separates mitigating factors such as behaviours and time (you don’t get punished for learning at different rates) from the actual learning objectives.

    There are a lot of kids in our communities that have big problems at home, and should be commended for even getting to school. To meet learning objectives in certain circumstances should result in recognition, not denial.

  7. I have this conversation on a regular basis with teachers of senior, at-risk students. These students struggle with attendance in a big way. About a year ago, I had a series of conversations with a skills-based teacher fairly new to the profession when she came to me with concerns around attendance. She was frustrated with a number of students and the fact that they did not come to class for theory days, but always came on the ‘practical’ work days. They were there for the ‘marks’ but not the other. As a result, they were all passing the course meaning they could perform the tasks without knowing the theory and were there less than 50% of the time. When we discussed this situation she came to see that there was a complete disconnect between the theoretical and practical and that these were kids who were better suited to hands on learning and small doses of theory mixed in with the other. She adjusted a few things (not a huge change for her) to draw the kids to class more regularly and over the past year has seen a significant improvement in her classroom attendance and performance. It is not perfect because these at risk kids have much that draw them away from the class, but it was refreshing to have a teacher willingly look at her own practice, seek out assistance, apply some new strategies and share the results.
    Teachers need to differentiate more clearly between behaviour/attendance and achievement or performance of a skill and until that is recognized, student grades will not accurately reflect learning outcome.

  8. Perhaps in response to seeing the direction the conversation was about to take, the teacher countered, “She may have met the learning outcomes, but she does not deserve to pass.”

    “Why not?” I asked.

    “She has skipped way too many classes, she has missing assignments and she has a horrible attitude. She needs to be taught accountability and the importance of coming to class.”

    Great illustration, Myron, of how the compass needle gets knocked of the gimbal, i.e., how discussions of academic competence get diverted to irrelevant discussions of student behaviours that are not mentioned in standards.

    I’ve never been an administrator — just a teacher, and then school board member — but I imagine myself in your shoes saying, “And would you kindly share with me the published standards of behaviour to which you are referring?”

    1. Hi Hugh, nice to hear from you.

      To twist this just a little in tone, teachers believe these behaviour questions to be very relevant, as you know, due to the many hats they wear. IF a teacher believes that they should instill work ethic, THEN they will attempt top do it with the tools at their disposal – sometimes solely the gradebook. I feel for these teachers as they are attempting to instill a valuable trait with a tool not designed to do it, at least for most at-risk kids. Some teachers argue that it works, and for some students it might, but again only if they already care about their grades.

      I couldn’t agree with you more on your final question – where are the published standards on behaviour????

      Take Care,


  9. Myron;
    I agree with many observations you and the other commentors have made. As a teacher my only concern is “did the student learn the material” and believe that the other issues are diciplinary and should not be included in their grade. I also see that we can get caught in a theoretical loop. As a senior elective teacher we are in the awkward position of deciding what to do with the now optional final provincial exam. Universities discount it as it is not a good predictor of the success of a student at post secondary. We, as teachers argue that our judgement of a student’s knowledge after testing them multiple times during a year is more accurate than a single one day exam that can have a statistical +/- of 10% or more. So do we then count it as evidence that the student has understood the content of the course? Leave discipline issues out of grading but also be skeptical of a single exam score. In this case of the high risk student it would be more detrimental to leave her behind. A good study of stressors for students showed that for elementary kids being retained a grade was more stressful than potential serious personal illness or even the loss of a parent.

    Kirby Sands

    1. Hi Kirby,

      I get your point – we perhaps run the risk of being seen as giving full attention and merit to the final exam in one case, but not in another – perhaps we pay attention to it ‘when it suits’. I get that, but if you believe the exam is truly a comprehensive sample of the learning outcomes, how could you argue that a score well over 50% does not represent understanding? In this hypothetical conversation, the teacher believed that the student did know the material – we did not disagree there, it was the contention by the teacher that the student’s behaviours made passing the course impossible, despite the academic indicators. I have seen in real-life, in cases similar to the one I described, where the student’s poor attendance, based on family issues, abuse, self-harm, etc… led to very low results on tests throughout the year. In the rare cases where one of these students gets it together at the end of the year to study hard and pass a final exam….bam….sorry, a grading policy such as an 80/20 weighting doesn’t allow it. Like one teacher commented to me recently, “too many teachers are bound by their gradebooks”. I tend to agree, if we are set on taking the final mathematical average as the deciding factor in every case, based on a weighting decided upon arbitrarily, we have relinquished a lot of our professional standing and opinion.

  10. thanks for the reply, The key criteria I follow is do they know the material. I was asked by a teacher if a student can pass your course in a two hour exam why is the course 5 months long? My reply was for that student the five months was not necessary. We do this often with talented musicians and athletes who come to our schools already proficient in these areas moving them to appropriate levels. Why not in academics. If the student shows understanding of the material what am I going to teach them by making them sit through another 5 months except that their already dim view of education is correct. I would actually like to see grade labels from grade 2 on removed and have students able to progress in individual subject areas as they meet learning outcomes .

  11. Sorry, I’m a bit late responding to this. I just saw it tweeted.

    What a situation! I am sure this situation plays out way too often in elementary and high schools during every reporting period.

    “She has skipped way too many classes, she has missing assignments and she has a horrible attitude. She needs to be taught accountability and the importance of coming to class.”

    There was so much that struck me about this teachers entire response, but what I believe that Claire really NEEDS is to develop a RELATIONSHIP with caring teachers and then, perhaps, just perhaps, she may actually WANT to come to school more often. She NEEDS curriculum to be meaningful and interesting to her. She NEEDS some choice in her learning to make it more meaningful and relevant to her. She NEEDS school to be fun. She NEEDS understanding. Maybe if these things were present then she may in fact have a better attitude and see the importance of coming to class. Claire is obviously a bright girl who could learn these things if her teachers were to take the time needed to make this difference for her.

    I am wondering what happened with Claire. Did she move on to Science 10? Has her attendance improved any this year?

  12. Thank you for your post. It draws out an even larger problem for me. I think teachers absolutely should be working on student behaviors and their underlying causes. It takes a community to raise a child, and in Claire’s case a thoughtful and consistent adult may pay huge dividends. I am concerned we spend far too much time engaged in the passing on of Science 9, and far too little on the human being. Whether she passes or fails will be of very little consequence if she drops out in Grade 10 because her life and skills to deal with it are terrible. Rather than spending hours and hours trying to find a “fair” way to grade, perhaps we should be looking at the value of grading at all.

  13. I agree with most of what is being said above. I guess I wonder what kind of interventions, policies, helps etc lead to this situation? If she was missing assignments, why wasn’t more done early on? Did she receive 0’s for the assignments? Did the teacher build a relationship with her? How did they deal with her absences? The end result of “doesn’t deserve to pass” is terrible – I wonder where along the 4 semesters that decision was made. While I cringe with the attitudes leading to that idea, I am saddened even more by the fact that it got that far.

    When I teach science to my students, I come in with the attitude that every one of them is capable of meeting the outcomes of my course. And in most situations, if they are failing, I feel like I have failed them. It’s amazing what a student is willing to do when you build a relationship with them, explain reasons behind your assessment practices, give them multiple chances, let them make choices in their learning AND believe that every one of them is capable of success.

  14. I came across this quite by accident – but as a parent and not an educator – I have a completely different point of view – my child’s job is school and she is to strive to attain the highest position that she can in her position. It is her “job” to learn responsiblity while going through school because no one and especially not her parents “is going to hold her hand” the rest of her life so she better get it right the first time. Go to school and she is old enough to understand that especially if she is in secondary school, learn what is taught. This is no one’s fault but the student’s – so the teacher who would not pass her. you have my support.

    1. Thanks for the response, Sherri.

      I suppose it comes down to what we want to define as a ‘pass’. According to my educational jurisdiction, to ‘pass’ means that a student has demonstrated 50% or greater capacity on the established learning outcomes. In the case of this student, no one could disagree that the student had met 50% or more of the learning outcomes. Therefore, I would certainly argue that she should get the credit for the course.

      Now to your comments, some of which I can agree:

      ‘my child’s job is school and she is to strive to attain the highest position that she can in her position’ – I agree to an extent with that – students are to put in effort, and more importantly, demonstrate the extent to which they understand the learning outcomes, and get credits in return; that does sound a lot like a job. I would argue that in this case the student fulfilled her end of the contract – she demonstrated the outcomes. If this was a job, we might not like the way that the employee acted at work, but we might have to admit she did the job. If she was to remain employed, we might encourage her by recognizing that she did do something right and then attempt to curb negative behaviours down the road. I am concerned that we sometimes want to treat 15 year olds as though they are adults. This student had a lot of challenges and one was just in getting to school, and surviving academically while being there. I have yet to have been in a school where all students have bought into the idea of striving to climb the ‘academic ladder’. I would also argue that the level of commitment in the job force also varies, but in reality we do not see every so-so worker axed from his/her job. I think it is all about nurturing and developing young people, and to deny proven capacity does a huge disservice to this end.

      ‘It is her job to learn responsibility’ – I agree with this as well. I too want to teach students to develop responsibility, commitment and integrity, I just don’t believe that we will achieve this by denying students the credits that they have ‘earned’ by demonstrating the learning outcomes.

      ‘no one is going to hold her hand the rest of her life’ – What we do for a student in grade 9 may not be what we do for her when she is 39. I do not believe in the slippery slope argument as much as it is touted. I see more often that it is important to keep at-risk students connected to school in time for them to mature and see the value of it. In BC we see the greatest number of students quit school between grades 9 and 10 and these students who leave without a full education are people who are not equipped to exist successfully in society. What is the outcome of failing students in course even when they manage to fulfill the outcomes? They leave school, and I do not see that as a favourable outcome for our society, or the individual.

      ‘she better get it right the first time’ – Second chances exist everywhere, there is really no argument around that. I would not want to be in a school that demanded perfection the first time.

      We pass very bright students even when they exhibit very little effort – it just comes easily to them. Why would we fail a student who has struggled all year, emotionally and academically, when she finally demonstrates capacity on a final exam? This to me sounds more like a punitive measure and not one made by a certified educational professional.

      When we separate behaviours from academics, we will all benefit. Trying to ‘teach this student a lesson’ by failing her in Science for things not related to learning outcomes will not teach her a life lesson nor will it keep her connected to the only institution in a position to make a difference in her life.

      Thanks again for the response.


  15. I stumbled across this after reading a friend’s blog. I had the opposite situation happen in my class: A student did the work all year long and somehow still “passed” the course even after failing the final (comprehensive) exam. While I commend him for taking the time and effort to do the work throughout the trimester, I cannot say that I believe he has successfully mastered the material. And now (because he “passed”) I will send him on to my colleague who teaches year two of French. I feel like I’ve mislead him and now he will be unprepared for this next class.

    So my questions come to this:
    1. Is it our (teachers’) jobs to instill in our students good habits such as assignment completion, time management, preparedness etc? (I would say yes). And if so, how important is it? More so than the mastery of content?

    2. If we take it upon ourselves to develop these skills, how do we do so without attaching it to a grade? I totally agree with what Myron said in that teachers try to do too much through grading. But I’m not really sure how else to do it. I’m not really sure how to shift the emphasis to mastery and off of assignment completion.

    I’ve been reading about schools that have flipped the weighting of their categories so that 80% of the grade is determined through summative assessments and 20% is formative work (homework/ in class participation). Many of the students and parents are upset about it and claim that it is too stressful for the student. (If they fail one test, their doomed!)

    We can’t win. (Maybe that’s because each kid is different and has different needs and learns differently?) But since I don’t really see the nation doing away with grade levels any time soon, I’d like to start thinking about changes I can actually make.

    I’d love to hear from teachers/ educators who have made this paradigm shift successfully.

    1. Thanks so much for the effort and time you put into the comment.

      I will attempt to address some of yor comments and questions.

      I guess one thing right off the bat is that i wonder what mechanism is in place for the student to pass the course while failing the exam miserably. He or she must have gone in with a pretty high GPA or the exam is worth next to nothing.I will only assume that you had sound assessments throughout the course and that the student simply failed the exam – either through (1) lack of knowledge or (2) blowing off the exam as he/she figured he/she had already passed the course. I have seen both scenarios numerous times. Another possibility is that the student is a ‘really good kid’ does all extra things well and presents pretty assignments, but is horribly deficient in core understanding of the learning outcomes. We really do a disservice to these students as when the exam rolls around, they no longer can rely on non-academic traits to get them through

      1. I think that teachers play a crucial role in instilling a myriad of positive societal attributes. The completion of tasks, as you mention, is important. I would ask however, is your course task-oriented or learning-oriented. Stated differently, does a student need to complete an arbitrary set of things in order to be assessed? By the very question you ask, I would surmise that you have quite a bit of grading. I myself used to be very task-oriented but I switched to learning-oriented, and as such, I more readily look for evidence of learning in WHATEVER form it might appear. As far as the Mastery of content part of your question, I think mastery is most important to the question of learning outcomes – what else would be? If a student is mastering the content, her time management in relation to my course must be fine. The same would apply to ‘preparedness’ and the importance of ‘assignment completion’. If a student is doing well despite having bad habits, I could only assume that with better habits it would further improve. The only thing is that you CANNOT control the variables that cause deficiencies in these areas. Your job is to measure learning as number one, and on the OTHER hand, to promote the absolute best behavioral actions you can amongst your students…just not with the grade book.

      2. I promote timeliness by applying time-oriented consequences to behavioural infractions like lates. “If your assignment is late, Johnny, how about you take a lunch or two to complete it?.” I promote good citizenship in my class by (1) displaying it and (2) applying behavioural consequences if it is lacking (parent meetings, detention, teacher-student conference). The number one question I would have for you is this: are your consequences (grade-based) currently working? My guess is no, and if so, it is time to try something else. Not only are they ineffective, these actions are sabotaging your grade book and rendering your actual grading useless.

      3. I have switched to a 80-20 system and i love it. I will add that i have also allowed students to display knowledge in other ways on tests (oral, art, diagrams, etc…) I got really tired of grading homework that I had no idea of the origins of it (cheating).

      Pardon my saying, it is not about winning, though I know what you mean. I have felt it many times. This do know…I would never go back to grading all of the non-academic issues as my grading life is now a lot simpler, more accurate, and fair.

      Thanks again,


      Feel free to email me directly with a phone number if you want to chat.

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