Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lowering Standards or increasing classes?

I think it is time to go back to traditional assessments.  Why? I am tired of large class sizes.... See, larger class sizes are the result of changing assessment.  

First, I abolished grades in my class, then instead of standardizing assessments, I actually personalized my assessment after some time I removed deadlines for assignments.  Why did I do all this?

I did this because my failure/drop rate in my calculus classes was extremely high.  The first 2 years, of teaching Calculus, I had a failure/drop rate of 40-50% of the class.  I would start with classes around 38 and end with classes around 18.  In one class, students had bets on what would be the final number of students.  This had to stop!  

Over the course of 2 years, I realized that my teaching was not the problem; it was how I assessed students.  I made all students know the material by Friday, assessed with a Multiple Choice, Written Response exam, and never let a child have a chance to be reassessed. In addition I would assign over an hour of homework each day.

Below is the result.  If there is one line you look at, it should be the orange one.  The orange line is the percentage of students who have failed/dropped my calculus class in each year.  The time is over 4 years.

I currently have a drop/failure rate of 4-5%.  I do believe I can get this to 0!  Was I joking about going back to traditional assessment? Yes!! Was I joking about classes being larger? No!  However, this is not a bad thing!  Here are what the other lines are

Light blue-The percentage of "traditional assessments" I use in my class.
Green-The class average on my Final Exam (This has been the constant over the 4 years)
Purple- The final class average.


  • The number of traditional assessment is directly related to my drop/failure rate. 

What is also pretty cool is you can see, by the green and blue lines, that the "standard" or "average" of my class has not dropped significantly!!  In fact, my class average has increased.  More kids completing the course and even a higher average....Remember these kids are not doing homework, prepping for exams, or completing worksheets.

There was one year, in which the Final Exam marked dropped, as it was due to the fact that I was perfecting my open ended projects.

Conclusion: If you want small class sizes, please use traditional assessments.  If you want a low drop/failure rate, please click on the links at the top and learn more.


  1. Do you assess this way in your other clases (i.e. Math 10C or Math 30-1)?

    1. I would. I don't teach those courses currently but when I did, I tried to implement this.

      It was early on to my journey when I taught those other courses.