How much of a student's grade is the teacher's responsibility? If a teacher is using differentiated instruction, making home outreaches, and tutoring students, and some students are still not successful, who is to blame for the system not working? What other steps can be done to improve the passing rate?
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You can lead a horse to water etc... I cannot imagine any teacher who is able to make every one of his/her students able to succeed. There are simply students who lack the aptitude and/or the desire to be good in certain subjects. I know I was certainly one who got poorer grades than I should have in some subjects and I know that my teachers were not at fault.
If a teacher is completing all the steps you mentioned, I agree that there is not much more he or she can do to affect a student's grade. I have tried some individualized methods before with failing students such as calling parents with a compliment about their child and not focusing on grades for that call--that has worked with two male high school students whom I taught, but the problem was that they failed their other classes even after bringing up their grades in my class (one eventually dropped out).
To be honest with you, it's a pretty discouraging topic for me lately because my principal will often have guidance counselors change grades for seniors so that they can pass--this is after he has talked to teachers about what they did to try to help the student pass their class. I hate to be negative about this, but I really try to do whatever I can in the classroom with my students because it's futile to worry about the other elements that I can't change.
As mentioned by someone else if you are indeed doing all the things you have mentioned most all students should be able to pass your class. There are, unfortunately, some students who have absolutely no interest in education and are not going to pass.
It takes two to tango! I personally always think that we as teachers could always do more to help our students succeed, but that this needs to be balanced with the recognition that often what is preventing them from engaging with education is entirely outside our responsibility and has to do with other issues we can do nothing about. I think we as teachers need to be very careful to "write off" a student and we should always be thinking of how to do things differently and exploring different options, but we shouldn't let it keep us up at night - too much :-)
There are just too many factors that influence a student's learning that are completely out of the hands of a teacher. Parents who are not home to monitor there student's homework; students whose parents are divorcing; students who do not come to school with a decent breakfast; truant students who do not come to school--the list goes on and on. You do what you can do do and that's all you can do. You can't be their parent.
The grading system is in the teacher's control, as is instruction, clear guidelines, realistic academic expectations, and opportunities for extra help, so it's not like the teacher is completely off the hook for the accomplishments and achievements of his or her students. But as has been stated in the above posts, there are a myriad of other factors affecting what students do in our classes and how well they perform.
Home situation, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, overcommitment, lack of funding, and on and on and on can make a difference. It's why the concept of merit pay doesn't really ever hold weight with me. You cannot evaluate me as the sole factor in student learning when, in fact, I am not.
All of the grade is the teacher's responsibility. It seems that asking for some type of % that is not the teacher's responsibility tends to dismiss what the teacher does. The great teacher will always find a way to inspire children no matter what the children's circumstances are. Rafe Esquith said that. Other great teachers said the same thing.
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