Half Full?

I just finished grading today’s test for the seniors. Today’s portion was on word problems. Overall, 4th period did OK. The mean was 71.3% and the median was 83.3%. 8th period on the other hand: mean 65.0%, median 67.9% . There were still many reading problems. However, I’m relatively sure I never told them the volume of a rectangular solid could be found by 1/2(base)(height), yet I saw it more than once on the test today.

When talking with coworkers about these classes today, this was the advice I was given:

— If half of them understand half of what you’re teaching, it’s time to move on.

— Yeah, that’s about typical for “these” kids.

I’m not sure I can live with myself if I adopt these attitudes. Actually, I know I can’t. Yet I’m not sure how not to get completely depressed in the meantime.

I’m hoping the second half of the test will be better tomorrow. Seems I’m working on some of the same issues with my high school students as Robert is with his college freshmen.

In looking at the glass as half-full, at least this didn’t happen to me today.

update:  “this” link no longer working – post was deleted by author, understandable considering what she’s going through.

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10 Responses to Half Full?

  1. Jackie says:

    The second day’s tests don’t appear to be any better – they’re so bad I can’t bear to continue at the moment.

  2. mathmom says:

    I think you’re in a very tough spot. The course is designed so that you don’t have the time to make sure everyone understands before you move on. You have more ground to cover. So, while you may not be comfortable moving on when only half the class gets it, if the kids don’t care enough to come in for extra help to get it, they’re going to be out of luck because realistically you can’t spend all semester waiting for kids to get with the program, and it wouldn’t be fair to the half that is getting it to not progress. 😦

    You can lead a horse to water…

  3. Jackie says:

    Mathmom, I agree it isn’t fair to the kids who are doing their homework and therefore understand the material. Since I shared the overall scores with 8th period, they have been appearing to pay more attention. They still aren’t asking as many questions as the other class though, which concerns me. We’ll see what next week brings.

  4. Pingback: Carnival of Math #18 « JD2718

  5. Anon says:

    don’t you realize that many kids CAN’T come after school? the days are impossibly scheduled, and not always with discretionary activities like sports (altho in these days of college admissions pressure, are extracurriculars really “discretionary”?) More than one of my kids teachers refuses to stay after last period, “I don’t get paid for that, and they don’t pay me enough to tutor.”

    my kids’ school has eliminated the once/week tutorial half-period (not that once/week was enough). school already begins at 7:10. that means hope your teacher is awake and has the door unlocked at 6:45 am (some do) or race to the room at lunch and stand in line (no food for you, no food for teacher). Oh, and pick which class you’re going to hit at lunch.

  6. Jackie says:

    Anon – I do realize that many students can’t come in after school. Which is why I tell my students that I am available every morning at 6:45 (classes begin at 7:30) and that I can be there earlier if they arrange it with me before hand. I’ve told them they can email me questions. Really, if they want help, I’ll do whatever I can to help them. They could help themselves by asking more questions in class too (which is my primary concern – they aren’t doing so).

    We also have a pretty good tutoring center that is staffed by trained peer tutors and certified teachers that is available every period. Math teachers are also in the library during every lunch period (kids can eat, then go to the library – 50 minute periods).

    I’m sorry about your student’s teachers not being available. I don’t understand that attitude. I know when other students have been looking for a teacher who isn’t available (due to a meeting or coaching), I just help them. The “I don’t get paid for tutoring” comment amazes me. Have you contacted the department head for advice as to where your student can get help?

  7. jd2718 says:

    I don’t like the tone of the comment, but I absolutely understand the thought. Teachers are generally underpaid for the work they perform. Boards of Education and Administrators are constantly trying to add duties without taking others away, or without increasing compensation.

    If the District believes that tutoring is important, why hasn’t it included it in the teachers’ contract?

    Instead of meeting their responsibilities, many districts try to divert parent anger towards teachers. It’s as creepy as it is common.


  8. Jackie says:


    I too understand the thought, but I would never say that to a student who was asking for help. As for tutoring being included in the contract, we contractually have to be at school until 3:20 (last class ends at 2:50). Do I kick kids out at 3:20? Nope. Well, not unless it is a Friday, and we have a, uhm, 3:21 meeting off campus. 🙂 Actually, I don’t kick them out even then -I’m just usually late for the meeting.

  9. jd2718 says:

    My friend just got written up (another district) for being a few minutes late to a faculty conference because he was helping some kids with math…

    When I sit down with kids, and I have a time I need to leave, I tell them up front how long the session will last. I don’t talk about pay or contract or anything like that. Why should I?

    But if I choose to only stay as long as I am getting paid, who should tell me I am wrong?


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