Pam Del Vecchio 0

Concerns about Computer Science 7 & 8

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Computer Science 7 & 8 Issues 

1. Edline – Extremely slow in posting grades. Usually only 1-2 grades until last week of quarter. No time for make-ups. Are make-ups actually provided in this class? The 4th quarter showed some improvement but is still not ideal.

2. Grading – Does not follow MCPS Grading and Reporting Guidelines even though she presented them with the original course syllabus. These are the items taken from her list of full MCPS Grading Rules that were NOT followed: 
 a. All assignments are given one of the following codes when listed in the Gradebook: 
 CODES                  TYPE 
   HW                  Homework 
   CW                  Classwork 
   FA                   Formative Assessment 
   SA                   Summative Assessment 
   PROJ               Project 
   R                     Student is allowed to retake
 b. There will be a minimum of one mastery assignment per week and one Summative test per quarter. 
c. Students will have multiple opportunities to attempt course objectives and indicators, to receive feedback on performance, and/or to meet with a teacher for additional instruction prior to assessments or reassessments. 
d. Assessments may be reassessed one time, and may be reassesses partially, entirely, or in a different format. 
e. Reassessment opportunities are identified by the teacher prior to the original assessment. 
f. Students may be reassessed on other types of Achievement assignments if they meet the following requirements: complete required assignments, complete the original assessment, complete re-teaching/relearning activities as determined with the teacher, and schedule reassessment within instructional unit. Students must have the original student work signed by parents or guardians before being reassessed. This ensures that parents and guardians are aware of the student’s progress. 
g. Assignment due dates will appear with the name of each assignment on Pinnacle/Gradebook 

 3. Grading Issue - One of the big projects for the 7th grade classes was graded by several 8th graders. Many 7th graders were shocked by apparent and striking inconsistency. To begin with, it is inappropriate to have 8th grade students grading 7th graders work. Assuming that is was acceptable, which it is not, just like the classroom instructions, the grading instructions must not have been clearly given to the helpers to have such inconsistency in the grading. 

4. Curriculum – There does not seem to be a set curriculum. There actually was a Syllabus for Computer Science 7 & 8 made by Mr. Brease but the impression parents got from what their students were doing was that there was no set curriculum. The items that were listed on the syllabus were very basic and could actually be taught in a month for each semester. She threw in the “fun” project to fill in the time when students were done with their work and then suddenly it became a graded project. The languages that the students used for the “fun” project were self-taught. There was no instruction for this major project that took up most of 4th quarter. Most of 4th quarter consisted of working on Pascal packets and working on the fun project. There was very little instruction which is not a problem as the students were doing productive work but the teacher was not very helpful if a student needed help. They were referred to other students or told to figure it out on their own. 

5. Nothing actually being taught. Students are learning on their own from the internet and from other students. There is very little teaching taking place. When there is teaching occurring, it appears that the teacher is only one day ahead of what she is presenting. She does not have a solid knowledge base on the subject.  She is not able to answer questions beyond the little she has taught. She just presents the very basics of the subject matter and then expects the students to learn the rest on their own. The class seems more like a self-study class with the adult there as a class monitor rather than a teacher. The students feel that they have been asked to do things that they haven’t been taught (even the basics) and feel it is unfair to be graded on these things. She sometimes presented power point presentations she found on line, but when students had questions she asked other students to help them. Students felt like they spent most of their time searching online to figure things out.  

It has come to our attention that this was an issue when she taught C++ and Java at Poolesville High School.  She did not know the material and the students spent the year teaching themselves through tutorials and their textbook.  So this is not a learning curve from being new to the program.  A teacher should be required to know the material they are teaching the students.  

 6. Some parents would like to remove the Computer Science requirements so that their child could take another class where they could actually learn something new. Others felt we should keep it since they were getting at least some background in Computer Science even if most of it was self-taught. This would be better than no knowledge when going into high school. 

7. Requirements for projects keep changing. The requirements at the beginning of the assignment are quite different from the final expectations. The requirements are not clear. There may be some written instructions but then different items will be added on verbally. These “extra” requirements are not made clear to ALL students. Sometimes it will vary by class period or have changed throughout the day. Students only find out the actual requirements by speaking to one another. If you are not part of the conversations, you may miss parts or do too much wasting a lot of time and effort. 

 8. Teacher attitude towards students – The teacher does not seem to treat the students with respect. She is very short with them and tends to “blow them off”. (This may be due to the fact that she is unable to answer their questions.) When she does respond, her attitude is very demeaning. Students have concerns about being able to approach her for help. In many cases, they simply won't do it. They feel shut down before they even try. The students feel she is strict and she won't listen to them if they need help. It is definitely not a supportive environment. She spends a large amount of time yelling at them. She often tells the class to “Shut Up”. She does not seem to be able to control the class without yelling. Some students feel that she has very obvious favorites, and the students who are not favorites are ignored. 

 9. Students are very frustrated and have come to hate computer science. These are students who have always loved everything computer related, but now at the end of 8th grade they have lost all interest in programming. The teaching style seemed to crush student confidence in thinking that they might be able to be competent in this area. The most consistent comment given from parents is that their child has lost all interest in Computer Science.


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