Re-weighting tests because of Snowpocalypse

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I'm an adjunct at a place that uses a standardized (if not particularly well-organized) curriculum and that has a provision in the master syllabus saying that grading may be modified over the course of the term. I'm thinking of doing just that.

The school was closed multiple times during the past "course unit" because of weather, and even on days when we were open my students who live on unplowed rural roads were frequently absent. I posted material online including short audio lectures with PowerPoint, but most of my (often first-generation and at-risk) students seem to need me to push, prod, and cheerlead in order to understand what's happening and keep going. Not only that, but also a number of them were without power much less Internet for 3-4 days at a time.

It's not surprising, then, that this unit's exams are almost all in the crapper - I'd say roughly 25% lower than the first unit's already low exams. I don't want to "curve" (really, scale) this test because I think it's important for student to recognize that not reading and not studying leads to really low scores. However, because this is one of four equally weighted non-comprehensive tests and because the syllabus says grading can change, I am thinking of changing the weighting by making this exam 15% rather than 25% of the examination component of the course grade, then making the last two exams worth 30% each of the examination grade. It seems like I can justify that by saying that we probably lost 40% of the instruction days (which they really need) for this unit.

What do you think? I'm really trying to strike a balance between acknowledging that things happened outside our control and stressing that how well they do really is within their control.

I'd wait until you are at the end of the term and can see what non-crisis test scores are like. At that point, you can make an adjustment in the students' favor if the trends you see indicate it was weather related.

What about letting them revise for additional credit?


I'm relatively certain I live in your region and I think it could be a legitimate reason. Around this area there were roads that went unplowed for days because the plows were maxed out on major roads since we don't get this type of storm generally. Power was out in large areas and many of my friends were limited to smart phones for real contact. My students are grads so they were mostly writing papers over clinical experiences, but I extended time on some reports and evaluations. Losing 5 school days out of 2.5 weeks was disruptive for everyone. I think in unusual situations the benefit of the doubt is helpful. I'd follow bioteacher's advice, but definitely consider it. This wasn't a typical situation for this area and if it affected them, err on the side of helping them.

On preview: Or what Alan said as well. Basically, give them a chance to redeem themselves if Snowplacalypse messed them up.

Another suggestion is allowing the students to decide.  You can put a poll up on your course management system.  I don't know if this will work in your particular case, but it's what I do when I want to make a change to the syllabus. 


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