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I think some of the people that have commented on this thread are under the misconception that the grade of 50% is like giving something for nothing. That is not the case at all. As several others have commented, we are simply rewriting the grade scale from 50-100 so that each grade interval (A-B, B-C, etc) is 10% including the interval from D-F. Another way that we could look at this is by using the same scale of 0-100 that many gradebooks currently use but making each interval 20%. In this system the break from F-D would be 20, D-C (40), C-B (60), B-A (80). This would do exactly the same thing as having a 50% bottom and then all the folks who can't deal with giving 50% for doing nothing can happily give a zero!
I have been using the 50 per cent floor since last spring. I had not really mentioned it much to my students. It does have the effect of keeping a student within striking distance of passing just in case he or she gets motivated (or their depression or ADHD gets treated more effectively) while they still have time to raise it to passing (70 in my school district.) I have a high percentage of students with ADHD, mood and anxiety disorders since I teach at an alternative school. Some days are better than others for all of us, but these kids really fluctuate widely in motivation and energy. Yesterday I discussed the 50% floor with one of my math classes. Some of the "A" and "B" students were incensed that others were getting what they perceived as a "free ride." Now that I've read your post, I realize that I could put the actual percentage on the student's work and keep it in my gradebook as 50%. Thanks.
I really like this "Not Ready Yet." I am going to try it with my students. I am incorporating more mastery checklists into my teaching, and like the honesty and encouragement of "Not ready yet." It implies that someday the student WILL be ready, but does not sugar-coat that they still have a ways to go.
I suggest you train in Dr. Levine M.D.'s "Schools Attuned" program, Orton-Gillingham, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia so that you may learn how to do it--peer groupings and individualized attention.
Peace and Good!
Michael Joseph Matteucig
Just wanted to make sure everyone is aware of the latest information about Dr. Levine. Mel Levine is now deceased. A class-action sexual abuse and malpractice suit was filed against him in Feb 2011; he died before any charges could be brought to trial. Prior to the class-action suit, he was never convicted on any abuse charge, and never faced criminal charges. There is an article outlining this information in the New York Times.
Just wanted to make sure people were aware of this!
I am OK with having a numerical floor of 50 for students because of the inherent inequity of having a 60 point span for failure while every other grade is given a 10 point span. What I still have doubts about is giving someone who did roughly half the work essentially the same grade as the student who didn't even show up.
I am in support of letting students have a fifty if they performed worse because giving a 60 point range to failure is mathematically unbalanced. However, I am undecided as to how to reconcile that a person who shows up most of the time and does lousy work may get the same grade as someone who doesn't even show up.
Suppose we award points for what is accomplished. Instead we give 50% for being present to draw a breath. How much effort does that require? Are we preparing our students to be productive members of society by sending the message that what matters is just being present while doing nothing? We need to give incentive for effort that builds toward a position of mastery. The more we practice the more our brains are stimulated, thus the more we learn. We can all learn when we put forth effort.
For every student that is helped and encouraged by giving them a 50 minimum (even if they refuse to do anything at all) I have ten that say "give me the 50" and decide not to do the work. The top students will do the work for the grades, the bottom students likely won't be helped by this gimmic anyway. It's the in between students that have calculated they can skip maybe 1/4th of the class work and still pass the course. if I suggested baseball players who go 0-4 should get credit for a hit so their average won't go too low or maybe a basketball team should get at least 50 points whether they score them or not I'd be called crazy. But really this is all about the philosophy of making students feel good about themselves whether they do well or not. it's the philosophy that has seen us go from the best nation in the world (in international testing) to near the bottom of the pile.
Zeros should be given for homework assignments and other formative assessment as those are not final indicators of how much a student has learned.
If you begin to give students below 50%-60% for large projects and tests, you are skewing the grade to where the student cannot recover. It is not my job to punish students for not doing a projector or failing a test (they have a lot more on their minds besides schools) so why would I give the student a 0?
Look at a 4.0 scale. 0 is the lowest you can go, that's an F. An F on a 100 point scale is 59(depending on where you teach). If I compare a 0 on the 100 point scale to a spot on the 4.0 scale, then the student would end up with a -6!!! Why would you give a student LESS THAN ZERO for not doing work?!
Telling a student their work is late and they fail is not how the real world works. Many times I've been given extra time to accomplish a task that I either a)put off b)forgot about c)didn't have time to do it.
A teacher's job is to show a student what their potential is, not drag them down into dispair.