Middle School Tests & Assignments


#1

Please give me input as to the number of tests, exams and projects your middleschooler has due in one day. Our son attends a Catholic school and this issue has been addressed with the individual teachers and the principal. About 3 weeks ago, our son had 2 exams, 4 quizzes and a research paper due on the same day. When I approached them, the teachers were surprised that other teachers had assigned quizzes on the same day . Today, my son had 4 quizzes (after 4 hours of homework last night) and on Friday he has 2 tests and his entire science fair project (research paper, board and all) and a book report due. This doesn't include the nightly math, spanish, vocab., etc. assignments.

Is there a guideline for assignments (other than the "homework can average 2 hours per night")? How would you proceed with your school if you've already talked to the principal and she has said she won't interfere with the teachers?

Thanks for you help.


#2

Middle school, so grades 6-8, I assume.

Different teachers for every different class as well, I assume.

The projects, I am sure, have been assigned quite some time ago. So it was not like the teacher assigned in Wednesday to be due Friday. Probably was assigned several weeks ago.

The tests are the culmination of a chapter or unit. The students were also probably aware that a test was coming prior to the day before.
The quizzes are a quick check of what's been covered in the past day or two. So it is more likely the student learned of the quiz the night before.

It is all about** time management.**

Let me tell you, it gets worse in high school!

It will not be unusual for high school students to have 4-6 hours of homework per night. Included in this are math assignments, papers, reading, and project research. Broken down, it does become quite manageable.

They key is TIME MANAGEMENT. Don't wait until the last minute for projects. Projects should be begun the day they are assigned. Do some work each day, and by the day it is due, very little extra time will be needed.

Tests - study as they go. Again, do not cram it all in the night before. Spend time EACH DAY, and there won't have to be a big study session the night before.


#3

I have never heard of any guildlines regarding tests, projects, etc. Personally I do not it is the role of the principal to be micromanaging the teacher. I see his/her role as dealing with discipline and making sure that federal,state,district, and school policies are followed ,unless that is written in those policies. I would be leery of a school that would control the amount of homework a teacher could give. Just as I refuse to send my DS to a school district with a " no zero", or no "F" grading policy. If I were you I would take your business elsewhere.


#4

I think Catholic90 has a point.

When were all of these assigned. In a Catholic school, I would expect a syllabus. So, you and your son should have reviewed all of this, say, at the beginning of the term.

If you don't have one, e-mail his teachers and ask for a schedule. Because last minute time mgmt. not going to work for him. And perhaps your family.

Granted... it's like midterms and finals. There will be 6 MAJOR exams in the same week. All final reports are due.

So, I guess the 2 tests... When was that materail started. How long a term does it cover.

The quizzes are probably over the weeks work. Easily going to have one per class.

The report... He HAD to have had 3 weeks or so to do it????

Curious..


#5

Thanks to all for the quick replies. My son is very much on top of things and if he knows he has a test in 3 days he studies each night before. Time management is not a problem for him or our family.

Originally, the book report was to be due AFTER the science fair project was wrapped up. The science teacher got behind due to a couple of snow days and pushed the project back, BUT didn't have the children work on the project for two weeks & went ahead to introduce new material (she wanted everything for the science fair completed in class.) (Apparently, this change of date was not communicated to the teacher that assigned the book report.) Fortunately, my high school daughter was finishing her science fair project and that gave my son a guideline for what the board should have on it. On one of the snow days, he sat down at the computer, looked at each of my daughter's headings and wrote the material for his board. He took the info. to class and the teacher made him hand write the info in a notebook during class (which is fine, because that was what was assigned during class time.)

My concern is that the teachers are not communicating their assignments to each other and they DO assign tests the day before. I see my son "cramming" way too much.

BTW, there is only one class per grade so each teacher teaches their subjects to the 6,7 & 8th grades.They will tell you that they "team teach".


#6

It's a bit extreme, but the workload is not unheard of. Time management is the key. The better the school and higher the standards the higher the homework levels most of the time. In many schools I've been involved with teachers work in teams and do meet to prevent numerous large assignments from being due on the same day.


#7

[quote="Suzq2, post:5, topic:229407"]

My concern is that the teachers are not communicating their assignments to each other and they DO assign tests the day before. I see my son "cramming" way too much.

BTW, there is only one class per grade so each teacher teaches their subjects to the 6,7 & 8th grades.They will tell you that they "team teach".

[/quote]

I guess I would do 2 things.

I would tell your son that if it's taught in class, it's grounds for a test. And so he should be studying daily. As opposed to waiting to hear of a test and then cram. It should be assumed that a test is coming.

If they team teach, then I'd be sending them an e-mail, asking for clarification... and if they generally plan to test on the same day with reports due and such...you need to know.

In the end, I think it's more important that the kids LEARN their subjects... not put as much work (usually without good knowledge) into shoveling a bunch of work out...

I'd watch the race to nowhere to see if you school is falling into this category.

good luck!!!


#8

[quote="Suzq2, post:1, topic:229407"]
Please give me input as to the number of tests, exams and projects your middleschooler has due in one day. Our son attends a Catholic school and this issue has been addressed with the individual teachers and the principal. About 3 weeks ago, our son had 2 exams, 4 quizzes and a research paper due on the same day. When I approached them, the teachers were surprised that other teachers had assigned quizzes on the same day . Today, my son had 4 quizzes (after 4 hours of homework last night) and on Friday he has 2 tests and his entire science fair project (research paper, board and all) and a book report due. This doesn't include the nightly math, spanish, vocab., etc. assignments.

Is there a guideline for assignments (other than the "homework can average 2 hours per night")? How would you proceed with your school if you've already talked to the principal and she has said she won't interfere with the teachers?

Thanks for you help.

[/quote]

What grade is he in? If 6th grade, that seems a little intense. If 8th grade, he will be gearing up for high school, which if you are going on with Catholic school, can also be intense. The middle school teachers in my son's schools usually did not coordinate tests and quizzes, and in high school, no way. If your son has a free period during the day, he might be able to do some homework then, or some time in classes where he gets some time to work on assignments.

Let your son help figure out how to get it all done. He's old enough not to have his parents intervene for him all the time. In middle school, parents need to start backing out and letting the student have more responsibility for him - or herself.


#9

[quote="Suzq2, post:1, topic:229407"]
Please give me input as to the number of tests, exams and projects your middleschooler has due in one day. Our son attends a Catholic school and this issue has been addressed with the individual teachers and the principal. About 3 weeks ago, our son had 2 exams, 4 quizzes and a research paper due on the same day. When I approached them, the teachers were surprised that other teachers had assigned quizzes on the same day . Today, my son had 4 quizzes (after 4 hours of homework last night) and on Friday he has 2 tests and his entire science fair project (research paper, board and all) and a book report due. This doesn't include the nightly math, spanish, vocab., etc. assignments.

Is there a guideline for assignments (other than the "homework can average 2 hours per night")? How would you proceed with your school if you've already talked to the principal and she has said she won't interfere with the teachers?

Thanks for you help.

[/quote]

I don't have any advice, just commiseration. :(

At my son's school, the principal gets up every year at orientation and explains how the middle school teachers meet every other week in order to coordinate the bigger assignments (tests, projects, research, etc.). And then the teachers just ignore her. Half of them don't go to the staff meetings and they all just do their own thing.

After having other children go through the school, we just "grin and bear it," knowing that high school will be better. Not only are the high school teachers required to follow the exam schedule in high school, the teachers are held accountable. And in high school, they have a syllabus for the whole semester which makes pacing the big projects much easier.


#10

[quote="Suzq2, post:5, topic:229407"]
Thanks to all for the quick replies. My son is very much on top of things and if he knows he has a test in 3 days he studies each night before. He should be studying every night, not just 3 nights before a test. Every night. Time management is not a problem for him or our family.

Originally, the book report was to be due AFTER the science fair project was wrapped up. The science teacher got behind due to a couple of snow days and pushed the project back, BUT didn't have the children work on the project for two weeks & went ahead to introduce new material (she wanted everything for the science fair completed in class.) (Apparently, this change of date was not communicated to the teacher that assigned the book report.) Fortunately, my high school daughter was finishing her science fair project and that gave my son a guideline for what the board should have on it. On one of the snow days, he sat down at the computer, looked at each of my daughter's headings and wrote the material for his board. He took the info. to class and the teacher made him hand write the info in a notebook during class (which is fine, because that was what was assigned during class time.) So, all the science project work was to be done IN CLASS? Then what is the problem? It sounds like none of that had to be done at home.

My concern is that the teachers are not communicating their assignments to each other and they DO assign tests the day before. I see my son "cramming" way too much. Students in middle school should know that tests come after units or chapters. They should be savvy enough to look through the book and see where the chapter or unit ends and plan. Again, if he studies some EVERY NIGHT, there would be no need to cram. A successful student reviews the lessons EVERY NIGHT and a really successful student PREVIEWS the next day's lesson the night before. Unfortunately, it takes most students to get to college to figure that out!

BTW, there is only one class per grade so each teacher teaches their subjects to the 6,7 & 8th grades.They will tell you that they "team teach".

[/quote]

It is not bad to have multiple things due the same day. It will be quite plausible in high school that he could have 7 tests (or however many class periods he will have) in one day. High school teachers do not coordinate their tests with other teachers! It is all training for those days when we have 3,000 things to do and nothing can be skipped.;)


#11

Just a couple things: there's a difference between cramming and studying. Cramming, as far as I can tell (as a fifth-year student in college, I hope I know the difference) involves learning the material and seeing it for, more or less, the first time not too long before a test. Studying is focused preparation for a test: practicing, verifying mastery of topics and skills, etc. I don't think this is a problem for your son.

Also, in middle school, it's not exactly obvious when tests are going to be. When I was in middle school nine years ago (Catholic grade school), the teachers would teach and teach, and we'd have no idea how long it was going to be before they were done. Then, around two days before a test, they'd say that they think we'd be done by x day, so that will be the day we have the test. We didn't have a schedule or a syllabus.

Does your son study too much? Does he do well on on everything and still spends a lot of time preparing? If he learns the material early by nightly studying, he probably doesn't need to spend too much time reviewing before the test.

Is he actually productive when doing homework, reading, or studying? I struggle with untreated ADD, and I know that I spend a lot longer time periods studying because I have a hard time focusing while studying. If this is the case for him, that might make it seem like he has more to do than he really does.

If it really is a case of having too much to do and too little time in which to do it, I would suggest calling a teacher or writing a letter to him/her expressing concern. Ask that he or she give assignments sooner and ensure that enough time is given to prepare sufficiently.

At the same time, I had demanding teachers in Catholic middle school and high school (college preparatory), and it's just kind of the way it goes sometimes. (I remember passing a note down my row in 5th grade advising my classmates to ask a lot of questions, as I noticed that, on days when this particular teacher got a lot of questions from us, she usually didn't have time to assign the many questions she was infamous for assigning for homework.) High school is bound to be more demanding.

I hope your son continues to thrive under pressure. :) He sounds like a dedicated student.


#12

our grandchildren's Catholic school explains the homework policy at the first parent meeting. basically they can expect a half hour of homework per grade, so an 8th grader should have 4 hours, but with good time management should be able to complete the assigned work including study for tests in that time. Science projects and once a year projects are expected to be done on weekends and usually scheduled at times they can take advantage of holidays and teacher workdays when they have extra days off.

Result these kids are well prepared for high school, which their public school peers are not.


#13

This is life and how it works. Your kid needs to learn how to handle things for himself.

Mommy going up to school and complaining to teachers at middle school level is out of line, IMHO.


#14

[quote="1ke, post:13, topic:229407"]
This is life and how it works. Your kid needs to learn how to handle things for himself.

Mommy going up to school and complaining to teachers at middle school level is out of line, IMHO.

[/quote]

My two sons would have gotten royally angry with me for doing that when they were in middle school. I didn't even do the parent/teacher association stuff, I just backed out of their school environment and let them deal with whatever. It was not easy, not by a long shot! But they did grow up. My own father had ZERO contact with my teachers from 6th grade on, except to sign my report cards. Parents were a lot less involved in their kids' school lives when I was young.

Of course if it were a true emergency, their dad and I would have been involved, but we gave them enough latitude to handle some things themselves. And mostly, they did. The younger one didn't do great in academics and his social skills left something to be desired, but he learned some good lessons through it all.


#15

I remember having lots of HW in middle school. I also played sports for the school and was in band so I would be working on HW for hours into the evening after practices. Not to mention other activities I was involved in.

I think I would have at least 2 hrs + of HW per night (on average). Tests were always assigned in advance and sometimes you got screwed and had a few on the same day, plus HW due. It is important time management to study over a period of time and not the night before to prep for them.

I don't see a problem with the work load your child is receiving. I would help him with time management and study strategies. This type of work from the school will help him in the future.


#16

Would it be possible to get your son involved in more extracurricular activities?

My daughters attended a private college prep school, and their middle school homework load was very heavy. They were also competitive figure skaters and practiced every morning at 6:00 a.m. for a few hours. And they had several other activities, including music lessons, theater involvement, church involvement, etc. And they did babysitting jobs and my younger daughter got a job at age 14 working at Subway.

Being busy forced them to manage their time well and make use of every spare minute for studying and preparing for their classes. This helped them as they moved up into high school and eventually into college and grad school.

It sounds like your family is already using time wisely, and I'm guessing that the television set is often "Off" in your house. But just in case, one of the first things that need to be eliminated in a student's life is television. My kids used to watch TV on Friday nights, back when they did the four in a row family shows (Family Matters, Step By Step, Hangin' With Mr. Cooper, and one other show that I can't remember). They also watched Dr. Quinn on Saturday night. And that was about it, other than figure skating!

Someday your son will be grateful that his homework load was heavy in middle school. Better for him to learn the skills of managing a lot of work now instead of in college or on the job.


#17

My guess is that the problem here is just a coordination problem among the teachers. I don't think they can be blamed for this entirely. In middle school, there are a lot of assignments, and it's difficult to space those out in such a way as to provide an even flow of work for each of the classes they are teaching. They probably don't even know they're conflicting with the other teachers.

Personally, when I was in middle school, the students helped the teachers coordinate on this matter. If someone tried to schedule a test for a day with a lot of other work due, someone would inevitably raise their hand and say, "We already have 2 tests on that day! Can you make it another day?" Then, if necessary, other people would chime in and show their support. Yeah... I had a very bold middle school class. :) But it worked!

I see no problem with the students helping the teachers to coordinate the workload, since naturally the students have a better idea of what they have due in their other classes than the teacher does.

In response to all the posters talking about how he should be "studying every day," I just want to mention that while I support this approach, it's important to recognize that in the few days immediately prior to a test, you do need to do a little more intense studying if you hope to do well. Going over the readings from that day when you get home every night is fine, but if that is all that you do, you will end up forgetting a lot of important details by the time the test rolls around. Also, a lot of times--especially when you move into the higher grades--there simply aren't enough hours in the day to recapitulate all the lessons from that day in your nightly study routine, in addition to doing your other assignments and extracurriculars, so the "study every night" approach is not only ineffective, it's impossible. Again, I'm not saying you shouldn't attempt it (that's your choice), but you should also recognize its limitations.

I mention that just to affirm that I sympathize with the OP's concerns regarding the concentration of the workload on certain days and I agree that is a valid issue that ought to be addressed. In fact, my university (a very well-respected, and ancient, institution) had a policy against having too many exams on one day. If you had more than two exams in a day, you could get an excuse from the dean to get out of any others, and there's nothing the professor could do about it other than reschedule or give you a make-up exam at some later date. If even colleges do that, I think middle schools should be able to do something like that, too.


#18

Thanks, again for the replies. Thanks especially to White Tree for the words of understanding.

This isn't my first child to go through this middle school, so I do know what's expected and reasonable. Also, my older child is in a public high school is involved in sports and clubs, takes honors classes and has less homework than she did at the Catholic middle school. So, I'm not complaining just to complain.

I do wonder how people justify 4 hours of homework a night. If a child gets home at 4 p.m. and did homework 4 hours, that would be 8 p.m. Then, they need to eat dinner and shower. AND, they're supposed to have extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs? How can that be healthy not only for the child but for the family?

BTW, one of the teachers postponed the test she was going to give yesterday.


#19

The highschoolers I worked with at a secular private school would report being up past midnight at least 3 days a week finishing homework and projects. I'm really not a fan of teaching kids how to get by on 5 or six hours of sleep per night. It's not healthy, but it's pretty common.


#20

[quote="Suzq2, post:18, topic:229407"]
Thanks, again for the replies. Thanks especially to White Tree for the words of understanding.

This isn't my first child to go through this middle school, so I do know what's expected and reasonable. Also, my older child is in a public high school is involved in sports and clubs, takes honors classes and has less homework than she did at the Catholic middle school. So, I'm not complaining just to complain.

I do wonder how people justify 4 hours of homework a night. If a child gets home at 4 p.m. and did homework 4 hours, that would be 8 p.m. Then, they need to eat dinner and shower. AND, they're supposed to have extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs? How can that be healthy not only for the child but for the family?

BTW, one of the teachers postponed the test she was going to give yesterday.

[/quote]

That is the difference between a Catholic school and public school. My son who is in Jesuit college prep is already doing a lot of college freshman level work and he's a junior in high school. You can't expect a private religious school to descend to the level of a government school.

I sympathize with you on the load kids are supposed to carry, though. As we keep raising the standard for college entrance, because everyone is expected to go, it takes more and more activities to add to that resume' which is ridiculous IMO. I have never been one to push extra-curriculars simply because the academics to me are #1 always. My two sons were not particularly talented in sports so we didn't have that conflict, but I know families who did.


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