My colleague next door has laid out a bit of a standards-based grading manifesto. Read it here. You'll be hooting and hollering or extremely furious, depending on where you stand. Either way, it will get you thinking. A few snippets to wet your reading appetite:
On the problem with traditional grading schemes...
and some thoughts on implementing standards-based grading so students understand it...
Problem: Kids want to play games to get points in order to get an ‘A’. This is a problem because it puts emphasis on accumulating points and not on what the points are supposed represent: learning. You must migrate your system of grading away from grading every single assignment summatively (that is assigning a static grade for everything a kid does), and towards grades that are indexed by content.
Students could not care less about their score on “Quiz 5″ from last month; they don’t even know what was on that quiz. Don’t put that in your gradebook. Put the individual ideas that that quiz assessed in your gradebook, so that the students know what it is you care about. I do this, and my gradebook has ballooned to about three times its previous size. Oh well.
Major Hurdle: Kids don’t listen on the day you present the syllabus/explain expectations, so they won’t understand your new grading system. You can belabor the point for the entire first day (why are you spending a whole day on the syllabus? Get going; they can read), but the students are so dead to classroom logistics that you’re going to have to teach about SBG as they go along.Tweet about it. Send it to your colleagues. Post it to your listserv. It just makes sense.
I have many moments throughout the semester where kids show me how trained they are by the previous system. Kids will ask me if they can do extra homework to raise their grade. Why the hockey sticks would someone ask that? It’s absurd. I don’t even grade homework!! I say, “No, but you can study and show me that you understand this topic from a previous chapter that you’ve previously demonstrated a low understanding of.” They usually snap back into our reality. This is the behavior I’ve wanted all along, and I’m happy to say I have it now.