Poor grade rates can hurt teachers

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English professor questions role in student success.

By Emily Garcia


Productive grade rates and retention rates are used by Alamo Colleges to measure how well students are performing in courses and how many students are staying enrolled in courses, Richard Moore, executive director of the Texas Community College Association, said.

Each Texas community college has specific rates with which grades and retention must be retained, Moore said.

At this college, productive grade rates must be at least 70 percent for a teacher not to be penalized, said Mike Burton, chair of English, humanities, education and journalism/photography.

Productive grade rates are the percentage of students in a course who earn an A, B or C. Course retention rates cannot drop below 70 percent, Burton said.

For example, if there are 10 students enrolled in a course, three would be able to drop the course without the teacher being penalized because the course would have retained 70 percent of its students.

If a course cannot retain more than 70 percent of both students and productive grade rates, the teacher must complete a win-win agreement and submit it to the chair of the department, Burton said.

A win-win agreement was adopted from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Stephen Covey, Burton said.

Teachers who complete a win-win agreement in the English program are required to give a survey at the beginning of the semester asking students about issues they thought might hinder their success, Burton said.

“By giving the surveys, we can see what factors students think keep them from succeeding,” Burton said. “So instead of just throwing everything at the wall to find a solution … let’s see what students say so we can identify what their biggest obstacles are and address them.”

By identifying and addressing these obstacles, productive grade rates and retention rates may rise.

Many issues identified by students through the surveys at the beginning of the semester were lack of study spaces, money problems, procrastination, time management and poor study habits, English Professor Liz Ann Aguilar said.

“Students are aware of these issues, but it was interesting to see if they addressed them by the end of the semester or not,” Aguilar said.

Teachers can only help students maintain good grades and stay enrolled as much as the students will let them, Aguilar said.

She has found that even though students are aware of their issues, many do not seek advising or come to her for help.

“I can try to reach out to students as much as I possibly can, but it is up to the student to decide if they want the help,” Aguilar said. “If a student does not want the help to pass a class or stay in a class, what else can I possibly do?”

Aguilar believes some students lack motivation.

“What concerns me is if a student does not want to turn in their work or come to class, how are you going to work in your job once you finish college, where they will not tolerate missing work?” Aguilar said.


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