A "B" or a "C" for a student with missing work?

What do you think?  Give a “B” or a “C” to a student with missing work?

A student has scored “B” average on all assessments; however, the student has several missing homework assignments.  The student was given all sorts of warnings and opportunities to make up the missing work.   If the teacher places a “0” for each missing assignment the student’s average becomes a “C” even though the student has demonstrated a “B” achievement level.  Should the student receive a “B” or a “C”?

My colleague came to me with her conundrum.  We looked at PowerSchool together.  There was clearly enough evidence, even with the missing assignments to determine that the student had, indeed, achieved the “B”.   However, what to do with those missing assignments?  The teacher really wanted to communicate to the student the importance of the work and the need to put forth effort but she didn’t want it to be in the form of a punishment of lowering the overall grade.  She also had the official effort assessment to record.  This information accompanies the grade in all subject areas where a “1” reflects high effort and a “5” achieves little or no effort (see descriptors below).  Personally, I think the effort category should be the reflector of the effort in the classroom while the grade ought to be an indicator of achievement and I supported this teacher’s desire to ensure her grades were an accurate communication of performance.

In the end she decided to remove the “0”s from the averaging and award a “4” for an effort grade.  This morning she entered my classroom gleaming and absolutely elated about some outcome.  She proceeded to describe how the student had approached her about the “4” in her effort grade.  They read the descriptors together and then had a real conversation about the missing work and learning behaviors.  My colleague said it was the first time that she really connected with this student and the student completely agreed with the “4” level awarded for effort.  Furthermore, at the end of the conversation the student expressed that her goal for this quarter was to work at a “2” all the time.   “I feel so good” my colleague shared.  Truly, she was glowing. 

I asked her if I could blog about this experience and she replied, “Yes, you can blog about it! I love being a teacher!”

In my opinion, my colleague is completely fair and accurate in her grading.  The grades are not a punishment nor are they a reward – they simply reflect accomplishment.   Thus, they are not a point of discussion or contention.  The needed conversation ended up being about how the student can improve her learning behaviors and thereby become a better learner.  Really, given the situation, can it get any better than that?  No wonder my colleague felt “so good” and her love for teaching was affirmed.

In my opinion, standards based grading is the way to go.  Period.


Current Effort Grade Descriptors (though I think these need a work over themselves----I’ll save that for another blog post)

1 -- Sets challenging goals and sustains a strong commitment to them.  Consistently attempts the highest possible personal standard of work. Consistently meets or exceeds classroom expectations. (On time, prepared, and focused).

2 -- Often demonstrates attempts to do his/her best work.  Often meets classroom expectations (On time, prepared, and focused).

3 -- Works to ability, but is satisfied with meeting minimal work requirements.  Usually meets classroom expectations (On time, prepared, and focused).

4 -- Consistently does not work to ability.  Often fails to meet classroom expectations (Student fails to be on time, prepared, and/focused).

5 -- Fails to work to ability level.  Makes excuses for lack of effort.  Little or no effort to meet classroom expectations (Student fails to be on time, prepared, and/or focused).