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Engaging Students in Algebra

September 27, 2018


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Hello parents and guardians! It does not seem possible but midterm has past and the end of the quarter is right around the corner. All classes have finished their first two units and started work on their third unit. With the end of the quarter in sight, I wanted to help clarify some of my more unique grading policies and help you understand what to expect and how you can help your student.


First off, grades will be divided up into three categories:  Participation, Quizzes, and Tests. Each one of these categories are assigned a weight. Participation is 20% of their grade, quizzes are 30%, and tests are 50%.


The first category, participation, will be assessed almost daily. The best way to explain what this category represents would be attitude and effort. Every day students walk in the door they receive 10 points. Students can lose those points for various reasons. First, they must bring all the proper supplies to Algebra class which includes a pen, pencil, notebook, and Chromebook. Secondly, students must be willing to share ideas and ask questions that pertain to the material. Students can lose daily points for not paying attention, not following directions, or being a distraction to other students in the class.


Homework is also included in the participation category. Homework will be assigned daily, but it will be graded based on participation. Homework is designed to practice the skills learned in class that day and students are not expected to be experts on the material. Instead, they are required to give an honest attempt on all problems so they can come to class the next day to clarify any problems they may have had on the assignment. Because homework is based on completion, students will be required to have all assignments at least 60% correct. If the assignment is not 60% correct the day it is due, students will be given a zero until they pass the assignment. Students will have until the end of the unit to complete the assignment and receive partial credit. After the unit is over, the assignment will be worth zero but still must be completed. Before a student is allowed to take the chapter test they must have every assignment completed.


The last grades you will find in the participation category are notes. Students are handed out guided notes at the beginning of each chapter. They are required to follow along in class and work out examples with me in their notes. Each section is worth 10 points and notes are graded at the end of each chapter. I do my best to add comments to any participation score that is not a 10 out of 10 so that you can better understand why your student missed points in this category.

Quizzes are the second category in the grade book.  Quizzes will be used often to determine an individual’s mastery of each objective and most quizzes will contain five multiple choice questions. To demonstrate mastery, students must receive an 80% or higher on all quizzes. If students receive a grade below 80%, they will be required to retake the quiz. The quiz they retake will contain similar, but different questions. A student can only score up to 8 points on any quiz that must be retaken. This process will be repeated until the student demonstrates mastery of the objectives. Students are not allowed to take the chapter test until every quiz is completed with at least a score of 80%.


Math is a foundational subject, what we learn now we will use next chapter and/or the chapter after that. If students do not understand the topics currently being discussed it only will get worse as they progress through mathematics. Not allowing students to fail these quizzes ensure they understand what is currently being taught so they can continue to be successful in the course.


The last category contains tests. Tests will be given after each chapter and at the end of the semester. Tests have the biggest impact on a student’s grade. A student will not be allowed to take a test if they have missing homework or quizzes. Students must finish all prerequisite work in order to take the test. Students are allowed to retake any tests but they will receive the grade on the retake whether or not it is better. If students are not finished with all their assignments on the day the test is administered, they will spend that class period next to me working on the missing assignments. A zero will be put into the grade-book until the student makes time to take the test.


If you check your student’s grades and notice any assignments with a zero that means your child has work that needs to be completed. All homework assignments within the last week can be completed for partial credit and quizzes can be completed for a maximum score of 8 out of 10.


Lastly, I wanted to mention how you could use the grade book to understand your student’s strengths and weaknesses. A student with a low participation category usually implies the student is having behavior problems in class or has trouble finishing their assignments. The comments in the grade book should better help determine this. Students with a low quiz category are typically students who take a little longer to understand math and may need to wait until the end of the unit to see the big picture. Students with a low test category are usually students who may struggle with tests (anxiety/nerves) or were unable to store the skills learned throughout the lesson into long-term memory. These are general guidelines and if you have a concern about your individual student please contact me.

I know this is a lengthy letter and there are a lot of grading and classroom rules that are different, and sometimes confusing, then what your student may be accustomed to. I have spent a lot of time researching and trying many different practices and believe this is the best way to ensure everyone can be successful and leave the class with a better understanding of Algebra. If you ever have any questions on my grading policy, your student’s behavior, or your student's grades please contact me at kfleshman@putnamcountyr1.net.



Thank you for your time,

Kyle Fleshman