Dear MMS Instrumental Music students and families,
I have recently received a large amount of emails from students and parents regarding both the online practice record submission process as well as concern over their student’s current overall grade appearing on their progress report in my class. Because these emails have been so many in number, I will no longer be responding individually to parents or students with questions about these three topics for the time being. My statements pertaining to these issues are below.
Please understand that progress reports are unofficial grades that document a student’s progress in each of their classes at that moment in time. Progress report grades are not recorded into student transcripts. Only semester grades are final and permanent. Everyone can easily monitor student grades using PowerSchool throughout the entire school year. Progress reports are simply the periodically-printed reports of what can be viewed in PowerSchool.
MMS distributes grade reports every six weeks. The first two reports of a semester are progress reports, and the third report are the student’s final grades for the semester. For further details about progress reports and grading periods, please see the opening pages of the MMS student planner.
LOW GRADE IN BAND/ORCHESTRA CLASS
There are many students that currently have an overall academic grade of “D” in band/orchestra classes. These are students who currently have a zero score for the practice record due on September 28th. I completely understand the level of shock and disappointment that can result from seeing that grade on a progress report. Please do not take this personally, and understand that this is simply an unfortunate and temporary mathematical circumstance, and not a punishment or consequence directed at the student.
The 2018 – 2019 school year is still very young, and only a small number of point-earning opportunities have presented themselves thus far. There are typically over 500 points available for MMS Instrumental Music classes in a semester, and on this first progress report, only 77 points will have been assessed. With so few possible points at the moment, lost points represent a much larger percentage of the overall grade than they will when semester grades are finalized. For example, the 10 points of the practice record in question represents just 2% of 500 points, and a whopping 13% of 77 points. The question then becomes, “Why isn’t the grade a ‘B’?” The answer is that I weight the categories of grades in my class. Participation points make up 50% of the overall grade, practice records are 30%, and performance assessments (playing tests) represent 20%. Once the semester comes to a close, these categories and scores will all come into perspective. In the early stages of a school year, though, weighted grade categories like this can blow small blemishes out of proportion.
The bottom line of this issue is this: If you are currently seeing a surprisingly low academic grade for this class, please do not panic. Progress reports are not official grades, and the grade will rise naturally as more and more points are given for participation week after week, and point-earning opportunities like weekly practice records and performance assessments come to pass.
WEEKLY PRACTICE RECORDS
In regards to the weekly practice record submission process, please see the following points:
- The process for submitting weekly practice records online was explained and demonstrated on the big screen to all classes
- The final step of the submission process should be to check your email inbox for the email report of the submission (which also serves as a confirmation of successful submission)
- You may need to check your junk/spam folder or adjust your email settings in order for these reports to be received in your regular inbox
- I will not be changing any grades from zero to half or full credit unless the student can produce a report/confirmation email to back up their claim
- If you do not receive a report within a few minutes of submission, go back and submit your information again
- Keep submitting until you receive a report/confirmation email
- If you submit three or more times without getting a report/confirmation email, check your junk/spam folder and/or your email’s settings
- I can easily delete multiple entries, so don’t worry about submitting more than one
- Google Forms is an extremely reliable system, the submission form is very simple and straightforward, and I tested it with several different email services with 100% success
- It is unreasonable for me to be held responsible for user error or the countless variables outside of my control that can cause an unsuccessful submission or unreceived email report/confirmation
Thank you for reading through my statements on the issues that are applicable to you. I hope that they provide some clarity and/or comfort in regards to each situation if needed. If you have further questions about one or more of these issues, please wait a few weeks for the situation to play out before emailing me about them.
Director of Instrumental Music
Thurgood Marshall Middle School