Parent letter 2014

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August 15, 2014
Dear Parent/Guardian:
Your child is enrolled in math class this year with me. Though not all
students will earn an A, I do expect that all students will be challenged and
work to the best of their ability. My job is to help all students reach their
goals, and I ask for your help in encouraging them to keep reaching for
that goal. This may include asking them about their homework (Can they
explain what we are studying to you?), providing them a quiet place to
study without distractions, making sure they get enough rest to be alert
and ready to learn, and ensuring your child has the needed supplies for
class (paper, pencils, student companion) . This course is very interactive
and relies heavily on technology. Access to a computer and the internet,
though not required, is highly recommended.
Since the nature of mathematics is concepts building on one another,
students will receive homework most every night. This homework will take
between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, depending on the topic.
Homework is designed to give them practice on the learning standard we
are studying, and prepare them for future topics. Homework is the place
where I want students to try all of the problems and practice what we
learned in class. Even though homework is not graded, it is absolutely
critical to learning. If students do not practice, they do not learn the
concepts well. I realize that things come up and that on some nights, life
will interfere with homework, but if they are consistently not completing
their homework, their grade will suffer.
Grades are designed to reflect what a student knows, and the areas that
they need to work on. To this end, we will be doing things a bit differently.
Students will be tested every Wednesday. Tests will be 25 questions,
approximately 7 of which will be on material from the current week. The
other 18 will be review of previously covered material. We will have
approximately 8 tests per quarter. Tests will be broken down by learning
standard. Students will earn a grade on their understanding of EACH
learning standard, so students earn multiple grades per test. Because of
the nature of tests, they cannot be made up, but they can be taken early.
Students will have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of each
learning standard. Standards will be on the test a minimum of two weeks,
and up to four weeks, Standards will be on the test until 80% of students
master the standard.
Grades will be earned for each standard, and their understanding of it.
This will be based on a 4 point scale, and the grade will be based on your
most recent attempts at the topic, not an average. The grades in the
gradebook will be recorded as a number out of 4. At the end of the
quarter, the grades will be converted to percentages on our usual scale
using the table on the Grading Rubric for Mastery of Learning Standards
handout. Students have multiple chances to demonstrate mastery. I am
looking for a pattern of achievement. Students have to demonstrate
repeated mastery of a learning standard, based on the descriptors on the
Grading Rubric for Mastery of Learning Standards handout. On the test,
students will earn a maximum of 3.5 points. The other 0.5 points will come
from application problems. Students will pick those up on Wednesday and
will turn them in on Friday. The application problems are designed as
extensions of the learning standards we are studying. They have students
take the information we studied in class, and give them practical uses.
I understand that grading this way is different and can be hard to
understand at first. Research shows that grading by learning standards is
a more accurate reflection of student understanding. It also allows me to
give more focused feedback to students to tell them their strengths and
weaknesses.
If you have further questions, or would like to discuss your child’s progress
at any point, please contact me at 260-5205 or e-mail me at
[email protected] I would encourage e-mail if at all possible,
since I have easier access to e-mail than an outside phone line. I look
forward to working with you and your child to make this a positive and
productive school year!
Sincerely,
Lori McDowell
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