The early grade data are now in: the initial blog post, the first blog period and the first class test, enough to calculate a meaningful overall grade. The numbers do not look pretty. Incredibly, 28% of the class are currently failing the course. Only 1.4% of the class are on some kind of A (at least they show it can be done). Of the remaining students, 21% are on some kind of B, 32% on some kind of C, and 17.6% on a D.
With my grading algorithm (best of three blog periods, best two of four class tests), none of the grades to date need impact the final grade. Indeed, nothing begins to stick until early November. But the students need to lay the foundation for improvement NOW. And improve, most of them sure will. They just need to work with me.
The university asks us to do Early Progress Reports on all freshmen. Early Progress Reports have to be done by October 5. We have no more grades before then, but there will be some further attendance data, so we can’t report just yet. The Reports go to the students and their advisers, and are a mechanism for spotting students in trouble before it is too late. Most commonly, the Reports are an important kick in the butt of students who are too much enjoying the distractions of college.
The Early Reports are trivial to return if the student is doing satisfactorily (tick the yes box). But tick the unsatisfactory box, and fresh window opens, offering a long list of ailments: tests, quizzes, assignments, attendance, participation, absences, tardiness, and my favorite, unsatisfactory demonstration of necessary skills…. also demanded is the date the student last showed signs of life (ok, they don’t put it that way, but that’s what’s meant). You also get the chance to write comments, up to 250 characters.
Given the current failure rates, I’ll have 99 unsatisfactory reports to return. By the time I’ve looked up the data for each student, filled in the 99 boxes and written each a sentence…… at 3-4 mins per student, almost six hours work. MONICA……