An undergraduate classmate recently contacted me. As it turns out, a colleague of his suggested he read Shawn's blog. After reading for a while, he had an "oh my gosh...this guy knows Matt and Russ. I went to college with those guys!" type of moment.
The reason Doug contacted me was to ask a few questions about standards-based grading. A little bit of background on Doug's educational philosophy before posting his questions.
I am 100% in favor of students’ new results/grades to replace the old. I really feel like that is the most responsible and accurate method for showing student learning; now I just need to figure out how to make it work.and
I am comfortable with the validity of my assessments, though I understand the “fluke” concerns. My math colleague’s system works in such a way that students’ final grades are on a 5 point scale. Each individual quiz, however, has a maximum of 4 points. If a student earns a score of 4/4 once (and a score lower than 4 on the other assessments), his final grade would be 4/5. If he earns a 4/4 on two separate occasions, he receives a 5/5, as this would suggest mastering the concept). Does this make sense? I like elements of this system, but I still cannot wrap my mind around it in an English classroom.By now, you probably understand that Doug is familiar with standards-based grading, but wants to make it work for him in his high school English classsrom. Doug even understands that this shift is more than changing the way grades are reported.
Also, I completely agree that a major culture shift must occur, and we are hoping to do that school-wide (since we are a new school).In my opinion, Doug is in a pretty sweet spot. He is in a new school and surrounded by colleagues who want to buck the status quo when it comes to grading, assessment and feedback. Let's put our minds together and see if we can help him out. How might standards-based grading work in a non-linear discipline such as English?
So my first standard in class is “Use of Evidence: Use evidence from primary and secondary sources to support your original claims.” (Okay, it is actually standard #12, but it is easy to use for an example). In the first assessment of this (an essay), Jose struggles and earns a score of 2/5 (a 4 is proficient). On the next opportunity to assess this, he earns a 3/5, so the gradebook now shows a 3 instead of a 2 for that concept (since that is his most recent performance, as Cornally suggests). Then a lightbulb turns on for Jose, and he realizes that he has three more assessments left in class in which he will be tested on this standard; he doesn’t need to do well on each one of them—he only needs to do well on the last one! So he doesn’t even do the next two, but he works his butt off on the last one and masters that standard, earning a 5 out of 5. Is that the score he really deserves to get in the gradebook?and
If I am looking at the quality of thesis statements (which is one of my actual standards), that is something I might assess 5 times throughout a quarter through major essays, short paragraphs, etc. I see how I can replace scores, but I still struggle with the students missing assignments.Thoughts?