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I have a list of questions related to summative assessments. Today I'll my top one.
Should summative assessments determine the final grade?
The reason why I ask this question is because isn't it the goal of summative assessments to measure what was understood/learned based on academic criteria (standards)?
The reason why I ask this question is because isn't it the goal of summative assessments to measure what was understood/learned based on academic criteria (standards)?
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[i]Mario wrote, "Should summative assessments determine the final grade?
The reason why I ask this question is because isn't it the goal of summative assessments to measure what was understood/learned based on academic criteria (standards)?"[/i]
I believe that summative assessment should contribute to the final grade, but they should in no means be the only indicator of the final grade. My reasoning for this statement is the "one test, one day" philosophy. There are a number of factors that can determine how a student scores on a summative assessment.
What are your other questions about summative assessments?
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I believe that summative assessment should contribute to the final grade, but they should in no means be the only indicator of the final grade
Thank you for your insights, lets take this a little deeper. If the summative assessments are multifaceted in nature,occur at the end of the learning cycle, and based on learning objectives-what other criteria should the final grade represent? If a grade is a reflection of what is learned/understood, based on standards, and doesn't include non academic factors such as behavior why shouldn't summative assessments be used to determine the final grade? Should we dilute/inflate the final grade with non academic factors or formative assessments? I guess I figured that formative assessments should not be scored/graded and non academic factors reported separately. I use 3-7 types of summative assessments (standardized test, Web 2.0 presentations, portfolios, presentations, essays,performance assessments, and oral assessments)to assess understanding. Each assessment is given during different period in the learning sequence. I then use this data to determine what I need to reteach and what I should put in my grade book. If this is a misconception, please help me to understand.
Mario wrote, "I use 3-7 types of summative assessments (standardized test, Web 2.0 presentations, portfolios, presentations, essays,performance assessments, and oral assessments)to assess understanding. Each assessment is given during different period in the learning sequence. I then use this data to determine what I need to reteach and what I should put in my grade book. If this is a misconception, please help me to understand."
It is really great talking with you about assessments.
You are assessing your students with a variety different methods and at different times.
You use your data to reteach and then you reassess. I think you can safely that you are providing your students with a number of opportunities to show you what they know. I agree with you that you do not need to inflate grades. To inflate grades would only hurt your students because it will not give you an indication of what they truly know.
It sounds to me as though you already are using both formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments would include things like anecdotal records, quizzes and essays, diagnostic tests, presentations, and lab reports. Summative assessments are things like final exams, statewide tests, national tests, and entrance exams (SAT and ACT). I would never use just one test or even three tests to evaluate what my students have learned.
Which of the formative assessment strategies do you implement in your classroom? Why do you chose to use them?
I think summative assessments should definitely be a part of the grade. Formative assessments on the other hand shouldn't, although I think many teachers do make them a small part of their grade. Sum. Assessments though are pretty general and there's so many ways you could assess a student's learning. I like to give them options, like when we did an alternative energy resource report they could choose their own topics like solar, wind, fossil fuels, geothermal, etc - or they could even talk about a machine that used any of these energy sources. Also I'm a big fan of using music, or having students come up with songs to help them memorize or master certain content. I show them some videos on teachertube sometimes, like the meiosis square dance with chromosomes doing a square dance across the metaphase plate. A few of the kids thought it was dorky, but they were still laughing...
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Ruth you asked "Which of the formative assessment strategies do you implement in your classroom? Why do you chose to use them?". I don't have many formative assessment strategies, I used probes, discussions, cooperative activities, guided practice, and quizzes. I chose them because they are effective in giving me the information I need to make instructional decisions. So far they work for me, do you have any other suggestions? I know you made a statement related to what summative assessments are-I'm not sure I can associate a standardized test like the SAT or ACT with summative assessments. These exams don't necessarily represent what my students experienced in my classroom. Many of these tests are not written to measure depth of understanding but instead rogue memorization of isolated facts. These standardized test do not measure performance, application, or synthesis. What is troubling is that all of the assessments have cultural and geographical bias. So I'm not sure if such assessments truly represent what was learned?
Lauren-your strategies are engaging and promote learning. You use a very holistic approach, are these activities criteria based?
Mario, I think that the summative assessments should equal the final grade, or close to 100%. I can see the practicality of having the formative assessments part of the student's portfolio, so could be used to "back up" the final grade if the summative assessment(s) didn't completely demonstrate mastery of the concepts.
This subject brings up a real shift from previous grading practices (and their basis in seeing education as a "sorting" activity) to a standards-based educational system in which all students have access to the standards-based curriculum and teachers should be guided by the principle that all students can achieve mastery of the standard.
Research on the relationship between assessment and student achievement has a strong element of the value of student involvement. Their motivation to keep learning is supported by knowing what demonstrating understanding includes and having the time and resources to persevere in aceing that final assessment, NOT having their previous attempts to demonstrate their progress held against them!
Schools demonstrating best practices will also go so far as having several accessible means for students to replace a grade with a "tardy" demonstration of conceptual understanding.
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Jan, I agree with you 100% on the summative grades. Our school, this year has done a 20% formative assessments and 80% summatives. We are only allowed to have 7-9 formative assessments a quarter. I know this may sound harsh, however, I have discovered several things. It helps that I moved up with my student this year, so I know the students and their previous grades very well. My students who earned A's still earned A's, the B and C students started to become foggy. Some of my previous C students are now B's because they hated doing homework, and was able to test out on the content. My D students are still D's or have moved up to a C student. My F students are still F's, however, if they are below prof. we are able to give them an I (incomplete). At first I was very skeptical, but I love it!
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Liz, Thanks for your personal examples! I'd like to suggest something that might help your struggling students.
I had the great professional fortune to work at the National Research Council and one of my projects was to facilitate the expert committee's work and the reviews of their publication on "Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards." I had a big aha when I became familiar with the research in this area. It makes sense but I haven't had a chance to see for myself in the classroom.
The research says that when you grade students' work with a grade they are very likely to accept it and quit learning. When you "grade" by giving comments about specific things they could improve and requesting a redo, they keep learning. And if you give a grade and comments they accept the grade, ignore the comments, and quit learning. Further related research reported that the students who benefited the most were the lower performing students. Love that result, always! In discussing these findings, I heard a researcher ask "how does a low achieving student learn how to be an A or B student?" Hmmmm, by example! by being taught! I really started to appreciate the value of criterion-based comments and the time/opportunity to re-do work (without being penalized for the earlier poor work).
Paul Black, my guru on assessment, also commented to me that since making those comments takes a lot of teacher time, you need to select which papers or notebook entries or formative assessment experiences you will decide to comment upon. (Not all...)
If this makes sense to you, and if you are not already doing so, you might try this with your students, and see if you think the work you put in pays off.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your observations.
PS I'm new to the forums, but am thinking it is not necessary to put the exact research citations since this is informal. But would someone please tell me if this is wrong!
Thanks Jan! I am acutally looking at starting my PhD in Assessment :) I love this new way of grading and it was very easy to adapt to my classroom. My students are allowed to re-visit any test throughout the year and re-take it, if they can demonstrate they have practice the knowledge. We use rubric grades, so it is a fluid movement as students do task throughout the year. The only grade the truely matters is the grade they have earned in May. Which is awesome for me, as some students need a longer time to process and/or practice.
Jan I like what you stated in an earlier post "The research says that when you grade students' work with a grade they are very likely to accept it and quit learning. When you "grade" by giving comments about specific things they could improve and requesting a redo, they keep learning"
Assessment and grading are not the same thing, in fact it is safe to say that a "grade" doesn't truly reflect what is learned. Many of my students/parents associate a "grade" to learning yet as we know this is far from the truth when factors such as assessment design/grading & reporting practices. For instance I use a even distribution scale and base my grade on 95% summative assessment and 5% demonstration of life skills. An "A" in my course is much different in the Biology course next door-Why? My peer uses a 100 point scale, gives extra-credit, grades on a curve, grades behavior, and homework. So all though are standards are the same, a final grade is determined much differently. I'm not sure if this is right or wrong, yet what I can communicate what a grade means to my parents/students.
If a grade represents academic mastery, should we not allow our students to re-test until they demonstrate mastery? Why do we expect students who have diverse needs and learn differently to all demonstrate mastery on one specific day? This to me is perplexing, when I was research scientist, many of my experiments did not result in success on a given day. Obtaining useful results often took a many attempts..........why is education different?
Jan you stated "This subject brings up a real shift from previous grading practices (and their basis in seeing education as a "sorting" activity) to a standards-based educational system in which all students have access to the standards-based curriculum and teachers should be guided by the principle that all students can achieve mastery of the standard." I can't agree couldn't agree with you more. My transformation took place three years ago and I have been fortunate to work with Thomas Guskey and Rick Wormelii and Carol O'Conner on refining my grading practices to reflect learning based on clear objectives. I was reading a book on grading and assessment by R.Marzano related to the use of the 100 point scale-he stated that the 100 point scale was used by the military in WWII for assignment selection of soldiers and never intended for use in education. Here is my question, why educators use this scale when the scale is not accurate? It is no different from using a baseball bat to calculate the distance of a mile. Grades determined by the 100 point scale are flawed yet this scale is the one used by many educators to conclude if a student passed or failed. Is it just me or is there any logic in this?
Our school is moving to standard based grading this fall. Full implementation with rubric based grades on each part of the standards. We are currently developing the report card that our building will use. I love the idea behind standard based, my biggest concern is after high school. Will colleges accept this, and how will my students be compared to others when they are looking at military academies or elite universities. Thoughts?
Jan said (and asked), "PS I'm new to the forums, but am thinking it is not necessary to put the exact research citations since this is informal. But would someone please tell me if this is wrong!"
I have not heard that it is necessary to include exact research citations in a post; however, there are a few readers and participants (like myself) who are dry sponges for this information and welcome the opportunity to access and read original research. Please do provide as much information as you are willing and able to share! Thank you so much for this thread.
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Hi All -
It is always so interesting to read posts - and your comments on summative assessments are interesting and thought-provoking. Seeing as we (Pennsylvania) is in the first week of our state standardized tests, I thought it would be a nice way to ease the "stress" of the seemingly ubertest of the year. Thanks for the refocusing - to what really matters - our students.
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Assessments of any kind should be one of many ways we grade students. I use so many types of assessment tools daily that students when it comes to the State Assessment feel it counts but it is just another tool I use to measure their progress. By doing this students don't feel as stressed out when taking the assessmemt.
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Another great resource for assessments is the NAEP website. NSTA has several resources, including Web Seminars and journal articles, that relate to NAEP. You can access these resources at NAEP NSTA resources.
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Mario said, "For instance I use a even distribution scale and base my grade on 95% summative assessment and 5% demonstration of life skills. An "A" in my course is much different in the Biology course next door-Why?"
Mario, I think you hit on two things inherently unavoidable in human grading - subjectivity issues and manipulation of statistics to say what "we" want them to say! I think that might be why standards-based grading is a new Hot Topic these days. Administrators and teachers see this as a way to move from letter-based grades to more meaningful individual accomplishments based on state and/or nationally established content standards.
What are your thoughts on how standards-based grading might or might not "level the playing field" of evaluating students' learning/achievements?
Am I understanding correctly that some of you are saying that 90-100% of a students grade is based on your summative tests. That is, you do not count(or count not so much) class work, homework, projects etc. I am interested in understanding this better, if I am understanding it correctly. In my urban school we are doing quite the opposite, counting summative exams a very small portion of the total grade. We do this, unfortunately, because our students perform so poorly on tests of all kinds. We would like to find a way out of this and get back to grading on actual learning, not on tasks that may not always correlate with learning.
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I recently examined a small set of lessons around the topic of classification of plants and animals. We used the question "What Is an Animal?" from Page Keeley's Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: 25 Formative Assessment Probes, Volume 1 "What Is an Animal?").
Using this formative assessment is truly guiding my lessons to come — now I know what they know. I'm now able to guide them into the right place. I like it so much more when they get a chance to think about what they know and how they got that info, rather than 'can they answer the question on that one day.' I hardly ever give tests. And I'm sure of what they are learning.
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Hello everyone-here is just one more idea. I love formative assessments because they let me judge what and where my curriculum needs to lead me. The summative assessment does tell me if my students learned the material I presented. But there is a flaw in this...my school requires a very strict time frame. If the time frame is completed, well it is on to the next Unit. The possibility of reteach is not really there. By using several short formative assessments and readdressing my curricular needs, I have found that my summative assessments are extremely high. Again, the flaw in this is-my school does not recognize that formative assessments can be used for focusing curriculum and they only want to see results of the "multiple choice" standard test at the end of each Unit. I also believe that certain Units of instruction would be better served using a Project based final assessment. Again, not what my school is interested in. Is there any comment about this? I am also a Paige Keeley "user". In two weeks, I open my Taxonomy Unit with her "What is an Animal?".
Also, an added note-Paige Keeley will be hosting a web seminar on May 2 under Web Seminars.
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I sympathize, Sue. My school is very project-oriented, but nevertheless we are judged on how many of our students pass and PROGRESS on the state math and ELA tests. The science teachers also have to struggle to help the kids take one state test after the 8th grade that tests the topics taught over all three years of middle school. It is so much nicer to use the science investigations for teaching and assessing, but in the end, even my school has to train the kids to take the test.
This is the first year that I am teaching Biology and although I use both formative and summative assessments to determine the grades of my students, I think I do not have the right combination that is most successful for my students. I like what one person said about when students get a grade on every paper they begin to stop trying to do better. I don't know how I could grade my students without giving them grades on worksheets and activities and labs. I'm sure I will learn all that through trial and error and experience, but for right now I would like to incorporate more non-graded activities into my daily lessons and see if the students try harder because the assignment is not necessary for a grade. I'm so new to all this but in time I believe I will become just as adept as the other people in this discussion in finding the right way to grade students.
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Mario wrote, "Should summative assessments determine the final grade?
The reason why I ask this question is because isn't it the goal of summative assessments to measure what was understood/learned based on academic criteria (standards)?"
I believe that the final grade given in a high school science course is supposed to reflect the student's readiness to achieve in college and beyond.Therefore, it is not truly a final grade. The final grade is given at the end of the educational program in the form of assessment known as "comprehensives". These are now given at some point during graduate programs although I took mine senior year of undergraduate.In college, students demonstrate a variety of skills ,for example,collaboration, research, presentation and time-management. A single test at the end of the year could not measure this.
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This is a rich forum and I appreciate the range of comments, suggestions, and recommendations drawn from research.
I’d definitely post the research citation, not so much as to justify from a peer-review perspective that follows to the letter a particular style (APA, etc.), but from the perspective sharing information for others to “dig deeper” if desired. The discussion forums of course permit you to upload a URL, which may direct users to the particular resource you mention at the NRC. Please feel free to share in that light!
I resonate with many of the recommendations posited about providing teacher feedback comments on assessments, and providing re-do’s to improve learning, and the inherent challenges of doing this due to crammed pacing guides and a potential over emphasis on “end-of-unit” summative tests. It seems worthwhile and encouraging that there is a shift (at least from a policy level) to focus student learning toward deeper coherent and conceptual understanding of concepts demonstrated through an application of higher order critical thinking skills—beyond recall/recognition of facts, and that this is being reflected in more open-constructed and higher order assessment items in national assessments such as NAEP (2009). Focusing on criterion referenced assessments to demonstrate student learning seem more worthwhile than norm referenced test that are meant to “distribute” and differentiate learners along a continuum. It is great that so many varied summative assessment strategies are being posited in this forum.
As an aside, a quick “simple search” in the Learning Center on assessment provided over 200 potential resources! A “quick scan” revealed some titles that might be worthwhile for those in this forum:
[b]Science Educator's Guide to Laboratory Assessment [/b]
[b]Seamless Assessment in Science: A Guide for Elementary and Middle School Teachers[/b]
[b]Assessment in Science: Practical Experiences and Education Research [/b]
[b]Interpreting Assessment Data: Statistical Techniques You Can Use [/b]
[b]Everyday Assessment in the Science Classroom[/b]
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WOW! This thread is rich with thoughts and ideas about assessment. In my current position as the Elementary Science Assessment Coordinator, I work with a team of colleagues from 2 different states to create the annual science assessment.
Our science assessment is meant to be an indicator of what is happening in your school in science education. Although, we don't have a longitudinal data system in place at the moment, the data seems to be showing that students in classrooms where effective science instruction occurs on a regular basis do fairly well, they achieve at a proficient level.
I consider the scores on thi assessment to be a "snapshot of student learning". It is one of the many elements that teachers mght use as part of a grade, but I know the intent is not to use this assessment score as an entire.
I am asked by teachers on a fairly regular basis, and have been for the last two weeks, ( our assessment window is May 9 -26) what can I do to help my students do well on the science assessment? I respond with two questions, "Is science a regular part of your 4th grade students instruction? Are you using the science GLEs to build your units?" Dependent on the reply, my next response varies.
I am continually amazed by the number of students who do not do well on a specific concept , repeatedly, year after year. One of the things that says to me is that the students may not be having the opportunity to learn that particular concept. We often release items such as these so teachers have the opportunity to really study these items and try to figure out a way to make that concep part of their instruction.
Early in June, I will begin the cycle of science assessment development again. It is exciting s colleagues from the consortium work together to create a "great" state assessment.
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This forum has really been immersed in some deep and meaningful discussion!
Kathy (and others) - do you feel like there is a big difference between how we assess at the elementary level vs. middle and high school. I don't mean in terms of cumulative exams - I am talking unit by unit - new concept by new concept. It seems that there is a common language to the discussion regardless of grade level and I find that very encouraging!
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I've spent quite a bit of time writing this (in Word), and I'm sure that I'll think of ten more things to say, or ways to say them, as soon as I press "Post Reply." I find this topic fascinating and compelling, but confusing and perhaps unsolvable. I hate to feel that way. Anyway, here's what I've agonized about all evening:
A summative assessment at the end of the school year, or, as Therese said, at the end of undergraduate training, tests the content knowledge of the learner. As Therese says, “the student's readiness to achieve in college and beyond.” For that achievement, the older learner needs to have the content knowledge clear and readily accessible in his or her head, sort of like knowing how to spell and multiply.
The multiple choice tests at the state level test the same sort of content knowledge for younger students (in my life, the 8th graders). It would be nice if this test even [i]sort of[/i] fairly assessed the students’ understanding of the content. As with the math test, the reading level of my kids completely determines their ability to answer the questions. If even one word of the question is unfamiliar to them, the entire question is shot down to a 25% chance of guessing the correct choice. Too often for my kids, there are many words they don’t know.
The practical aspect of learning skills and content cannot be tested in a one- or two- day sit-down exam. However, for graduates whose careers depend on practice—doctors, teachers, barbers, mechanics—we go through an extensive and rigorous internship/apprenticeship, plus mentoring in the early years, plus annual reviews, . . . all of which assess the practical skills of the learner—[i]as well as forming their future learning[/i]. If my annual observation doesn't help me become a better teacher, then why are we doing it? To give me a grade? How important is the grade if I don't have the opportunity to learn from my experience? At what point does my career become summative?
NY state also tests a small set of practical lab skills. They are the exact same year after year (since at least 1997!) so the schools can own the materials and use them over and over. Kids can be fairly easily prepped to complete these tasks. The test tells nobody anything about the kids’ abilities.
Still, how can we do it in middle school? With Exit Projects. With formative assessment of process skills during the year. And these also test the kids’ ability to work in groups, collaborate, think through problems and test solutions. And a host of other life-skills.
I just don’t see how [b]A[/b] summative assessment can really tell us how well kids can understand and use the skills they’ve been taught. The use of skills and growing of content knowledge will continue to tell us about the students' learning.
Y'know, I think I just don't like the idea of the snapshot report card. What IS the grade for? I hope people don't hire teachers just because they have gotten Satisfactory reviews; how many of those are "just barely," or negotiated? I want teachers who really know HOW to teach, WHAT to teach, WHEN to teach it, and be able to assess the learning of the students. I can't tell that from a single score. It's hard enough to tell from an interview or demo lesson.
I keep thinking and writing. I've got to go upstairs to my children. Thanks for listening.
Of course, I had to explain to my 9-year-old son what has taken me so long this evening. I briefly said, "These are a bunch of teachers talking together about whether or not one test at the end of the year should determine a student's grade."
His instant response: NO.
And his reasoning:
"Because they might not have studied for that exact test or information but they would know something about a different subject and they might know enough about that other subject and they should get a grade for what they do know."
Got to love it. It took me an hour and a half, and intellectual agony, and he pegs it in 5 seconds.
Thanks all for sharing such great insights. I agree one test should not be the determining factor. I have been using mutlifaceted summative assessments which assess different skills/knowledge. When I combine these, I see a better profile of what the student learned and understood. Grading is not a science, it will always be subjective because it is done by people.
Thanks for the thoughtful posts in this thread. I've been looking for some free resources to help guide teachers to evaluate their assessment methods. I came across this free online video course on teaching methods, provided by Annenberg Media and Towson University. Assessment methods are discussed in this 30 minute segment. Here's the link:
I wanted to make an observation about what the professor in the link is saying about his theory of teaching.I'm making the connection between how he is saying we should plan for teaching and the laws of nature. The laws of nature are those theories that have the widest application and are universally accepted. That we could find these 'universal laws' that govern teaching would be quite a feat indeed! I do agree with his thinking though, we cannot teach students everything that they will need to know to have successful lives. So,do you think universal laws of teaching might exist, is there a mathematical algorithm to describe them?
Great Question Therese "So,do you think universal laws of teaching might exist, is there a mathematical algorithm to describe them?"
I'm not sure if there is a mathematical algorithm to describe non effective/effective teaching? Then again, do we need such a number to determine our effectiveness? Our profession is grounded in the relationships we have with students; can you place a mathematical algorithm on a relationship? As a former scientist I always tried to justify my observations with some form of quantitative value-instruction and learning is much more complex since it involves factors outside of my control. For instance, I have a student who writes well on days "good" bus days and writes horribly on "bad" bus days. How do you factor in these events into her test grade when such factors impact her performance? We attempt to be objective in our profession yet our profession is grounded in subjectivity.
In my quest to make things fair, the only tools I use which are quantifiable are: analytical rubrics, use of an even distribution grading scale (4 point scale), and basing my grades on 95% summative assessments (which are linked to standards). My school makes an attempt to use standardized tests to measure what the students learned yet these test never assess understanding of content or skills. All the other components of educating a child are relationship driven and require you to be compassionate, tolerant, patient, creative, focused, etc-I'm not sure how you can quantify a relationship with another human being?
Thanks for your thoughts...have you seen the movie " A Beautiful Mind" about John Nash the Nobel Laureate in Economics? I'm not sure that his work on game theory rises to the level of being a universal law...here's a link about game theory, which is based upon the choices of others i.e. human behavior.
I haven't seen this movie yet it is on my list. One movie that stands out in driving student based reform is "Whatever it Takes." Its an independent film on the efforts of a principal from the Bronx. It helped me to understand the benefits of placing high expectations on all students while providing them with the right learning environments + support systems.
I just found an excellent free NSTA book chapter that you might like to read. It has exhibits, flow charts and tables that attempt to organize and connect the many facets (theories, standards and practice) of the complex field of educational assessment.It's entitled, "A Rational for Assessment". It should read, "A Rationale for Assessment", but the editor must have missed the typo. Nevertheless, I thought that the chapter was very well-written and useful.You can find the chapter in a title search under book chapters in the NSTA learning center library. I'm planning on viewing the video that you recommended, thanks.
Thank Therese for the information, I will look for it in the library. As for the video, yes it is a good video with a strong message. Thanks again.
Greetings Mr. Patino
Summative assessment should be used with other indicators to determine the learning level of students. Laboratory experiments must also be included in determining the final grade.
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I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to come up with a treasure chest of different summative assessments-portfolios, Wiki's, standardized test, projects.......yet is there such thing as to many choices? Should these assessments be weighted the same?
I have to add my 2 cents. As a child I was not a good test taker. I got so nervous I had to spend time in the restroom before an exam. I know my performance was altered by my highly nervous state. High stakes testing effects some people such as me. I grew up in NYC and we had the Regents exams. I took a 3 year French regents and if I didn't pass I didn't get credit for three years of work. One test I took determined whether I would enter a special science program. I missed out by one question but my friend who hated science got in because she tests well and she has done nothing with all her science exzperience I could have used.
Yes, I passed my French test but barely. Well this is my take on the topic. Why should one test decide all. Yes, I feel the exam should carry some and I emphasize some weight. However, it should not carry so much that it instills fear and dread which can alter a persons performance. I think was is more important or should be weighted more are formative assessments. Maybe people such as I are few and far between but I truly doubt that and if that is the case then a summative test as a criteria for passing is unjust.
What do you all think about that?
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Adah-your post got me thinking. From an an instructional standpoint, formative assessments give me a lot of information on the learning taking place withing the learning cycle. These assessments provide me the information I need to reteach, enhance, or give a summative assessment. Since formative assessments are used to guide my instruction, should such assessments even be associated with grading? I personally feel grading should represent what has been learned and understood.Having a variety of summative assessments which assess learning goals can reduce the impact of one "major" assessment. I'm not sure if I could link formative assessment to a grade since these type of assessments normally don't represent mastery.
Dear Adah, and all,
I think there are some misunderstandings, which may be just semantics, about the differences in formative and summative assessments when it comes to grading. I’ll try to address this by outlining an ideal (in my eyes) approach to instruction and grading. Let me know if it makes things clearer, and most importantly helps you find some hope that summative could be fair for an anxious test-taker.
First, I hope that teachers who are planning a unit will identify clearly what the students should know and be able to do at the end of the unit. This is usually a concept or a big idea and therefore complex—including a few subconcepts and some inquiry skills and understandings that all together would enable a student to demonstrate their understanding. I am in agreement with Understanding by Design principles, that the summative assessment should be planned now—at the beginning. I also think that the summative assessment need not be a secret from the students. In order to take responsibility for their learning, they should be treated as a partner, and what you expect of them should be clear.
Next, every instructional task should contribute to understanding the subconcepts, learning necessary vocabulary, learning and practicing processes or skills that apply. Formative assessments tell you and them that they are on track, or if not, what it may be that is hanging them up. When a formative assessment reveals a lack, the teacher should give feedback on what needs to improve. And time should be allowed for the student to rework, practice and get up to speed.
Ideally, a graphic organizer for the unit can be used to share the organization you have in mind for achieving understanding of the big idea. Teachers often use the graphic organizer as part of the wrap-up, summarizing, and review that they do every day. This is very helpful to beginners (students) who don’t think about the ideas as you do, and do not necessarily see the connections between part b and part c, or why you would ever need to know this.
Finally, when you introduce the summative assessment, you can review all the ideas, processes and skills that they will need to apply to demonstrate their understanding. You can probably even talk them through without giving the “answers.” Usually it is even fair for them to use their notebooks, content resources, and even formative assessments to complete their tasks. For a summative assessment to test understanding it will go far beyond assembling facts to showing how they can show their understanding by applying them.
Afterwards, I would hope you would be into some kind of “credit recovery” that would enable a student who messed up the summative assessment to either redo a part, redo a similar task, or somehow make it up within the same standards of rigor. I know there has been a lot of discussion in this strand about babying students by letting them be irresponsible, but I think there is a middle ground in there for using some judgement about when kids need another chance to work and show they understand (or get beyond a testing anxiety freak-out, a family disaster, etc.). What I want to avoid is having students give up when they are actually part way there.
So to review the difference between formative and summative assessments when it comes to grading, for me the formative assessments are a back and forth between the student and teacher to keep both sides honest that instruction is making sense and students are continually working. What counts is demonstrating their understanding at the end. And having known what was expected, the grades should be no surprise, and should even be partly formative themselves (like “I need to learn to construct a better argument with evidence-based supports to improve my grades.”)
Adah, do you think an anxious test-taker could learn to live with such a system? Do you think it would be fair—as in being worthwhile to prepare for college and career? I have anxious folks in my family, so I do sympathize with the subject.
Great insights Jan. I just bought a book titled Formative Assessment and Standards Based grading by R. Marzano. In his book he addresses some solid points on grading and assessment. To break assessment away assessments (formative and summative) from grades, he uses the terms "formative scoring" and "summative scoring." He also highlights the differences between Standards Based Grading and Standards Reference Grading. I try not to get to caught up in the educational jargon but coming to agreements in relation to terms is essential when articulating ideas and making sure we are all on the same page. Thanks for sharing...........
I am reading with great interest the various points of view in this forum. I use formative and summative assessment. I think that summative assessment should weight more because students had the opportunity to improve via our exchange through formative assessment.
One of my great challenges is to deal with a class in which most of my students require re teaching due to low achievement. I have to cover the curriculum by the beginning of June. These students have poor reading skills and work habits. It is a real challenge to move forward and to assess their knowledge. I tend to do verbal quizzes and hands on activities but it takes a tremendous amount of time. The assessment is very specific with much practice so they feel confident when taking the test. What would be a true assessment in this case?
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Aloha Maria, I have given your post some thought. You raise some point related to your students readiness (work habits and reading levels). In relation to work habits, how much say do your students have in the assignments/activities? I have found that when students have a voice in what they learn they are more likely to do the work. Another strategy I use is that assignments withing the learning cycle are not graded but instead receive feedback. Believe it or not, most students are willing to do work which will receive critical feedback instead of receiving a "grade." In high school grades are a form of "currency," I make great efforts to rewire this thinking so that they value the process of learning and practice.
As far as the assessments you raised, may I suggest a fantastic resource titled, "Designing Effective Science Instruction What Works in the Science Classroom" by Anne Tweed (NSTA Press, 2009). The book highlights how a learning cycle is driven by assessing prior to instruction, involving students in the learning process, helping students to be metacognitive, and making learning interactive. This resource has helped me to be more effective as a teacher and efficient. I spend less time reteaching topics, ideas, and skills when my instruction is driven by the needs of my students.
As educators, can we really move forward when our student don't fully understand what we attempted to teach them? In my case, I cannot move forward with new learning goals because much of what they learn tomorrow is dependent on what they understood today.
I lean alt on common sense, which suggests that a body of work over a period of time should be weighed to arrive at a term grade. taking a test on a single day and having that too heavily weighted simply doesn't make sense. Further, this approach would fly in he face of differentiating assesment based on learning styles. My two cents. Good luck!
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Thank you for posting! I would like to clarify that I think the "summative" posts are being misunderstood if you take that as one test. The main idea that I propose is that the body of work of a student, perhaps shown in a performance test or portfolio, IS what is important. What I think is detrimental to student learning and classroom culture are grading practices that penalize students for poor performance when they didn't yet understand. If they are encouraged to persevere and do meet or exceed the standards I think they should get the grade they earned at the end.
I do understand how people get upset about "babying" students who have poor work habits and self discipline. I would like the attributes of students' behavior and responsibility to be recorded separately, not ignored but not averaged into their academic grade. Maybe this could keep them off the honor roll or such, but their content understanding grade should truly reflect their understanding.
I would have to agree with Jan on this statement "What I think is detrimental to student learning and classroom culture are grading practices that penalize students for poor performance when they didn't yet understand."
I know there are diverse philosophies and practices out there yet if our job is to educate students, shouldn't their grade reflect what they learned? I would have to disagree with Steve's idea about placing to much weight on assessments. The reason why I disagree with this statement for the following reasons
* Formative test data determines when my students are ready to take the test.
* Summative assessments are multifaceted, so a student can demonstrate mastery in different
* Including non-academic data into the calculation of the final grade will dilute/or inflate what was achieved academically (assuming your grade reflects learning standards).
In my case, I have to help my students students transition into college, the days of grading behavior and non academic criteria serve little purpose. This is why I put so much emphasis on summative assessments and ensuring I use formative data to drive instruction. Just my thoughts....
I think summative assessment should be a big part of the grade, but not the be all and end all. I have found that students didn't do to well on a summative assessment, but as we progressed on through the marking period they began to pick up more information and actually perform better on district assessments that came later.
I also believe we need to give students a chance to achieve. If they are willing to learn the same material beyond the date of the test, we should be willing to take that into account for their grade. Meaning, give them chances to prove they can learn it and make up a poor grade. Isn't the idea that we want them to know the information? Not everyone learns the information the same day
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I agree with you about giving students a chance to achieve. I did not test well when I was in school but fared much better on alternative assessments. Fortunately, I had teachers who knew that I was capable of much more than I initially demonstrated on tests. That's probably why I remain in primary education because I can use different types of assessments to find out what my students know. Also I can start to teach them how to take different types of assessments and help prepare them for standardized tests. As far as grading goes, I don't think that a single summative assessment should determine a student's final grade. I hated that in college because so much was at stake (and of course, I was not good at test taking). So I think students should be given several opportunities to help show what they know which all together will determine the final grade.
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Kathy and Margret, you both shared good insights. Summative assessments can be multifaceted and [u]not[/u] necessarily one standardized exam as you both mentioned. Time will always be a factor yet this is why we pace our instruction to the needs of our students. Some years you will be able to accomplish more learning goals than others yet this is the nature of our profession right? We are all well aware that our students have diverse learning needs; this is why we should consider creating summative assessments which are [i]diverse [/i]in nature. For instance, for one learning goal is not uncommon to have three different types of assessments ([i]project, standardized test, oral assessment[/i]). The bottom line is that we need to measure what is understood. If understanding is not achieved, then we need to consider re-teaching instead of [i]"moving on[/i]" or finding another assessment which can measure understanding. The point I’m trying to make is that a grade should be linked to what is learned and reflect the mastery of the the objective ([i]i.e standards[/i]). Traditionally teachers “buffer” their grades with nonacademic criteria ([i]such as behavior or formative work[/i]) especially when using a traditional scale ([i]such as the 100 pt. scale[/i]e). Although these other factors are important, one should consider reporting these factors separately so they do not inflate/dilute “[i]academic accomplishment[/i].” [b]Can this be achieved when other criteria other than performance on summative assessment is being calculated in the final grade?[/b] In my experience, placing more emphasis on summative assessment has helped students to develop self directed learning skills needed to perform well in post secondary education. I don't know of any college/university which grades [i]behavior, homework, or participation[/i]; why should grading/reporting/assessment practices be any different in secondary education? [b]If your formative and instructional practices are effective, shouldn't the final grade reflect these efforts[/b]?
You make some very good points! I very much agree with you about grading on what you expect students should have learned rather than including all that other superfluous stuff like homework or behavior. In my opinion, behavior should not be reflected in final grades. That should be an entirely separate part of reporting.
Good points Margaret yet I do feel that non academic criteria should be reported separately. I remember my high school used to do this yet these practices seem to be as uncommon any more.
Yes I do agree that nonacademic criteria should be reported separately. That's what we do in the primary grades.
Summative (and Formative) Assessments
This is such a great topic, and it was very interesting to read the various perspectives lent via the posts.
My take on this is that assessment results have important implications for instruction. Educators must use assessment results in a formative way to determine how well scholars are meeting instructional goals and how to alter curriculum and instruction so that goals can be better met. In light of such, the content of assessment (what is actually assessed) and the format of assessment (how scholars are assessed) should match what was taught and how it was taught; the bottom line for all assessments should be to provide information that will help improve the instruction of our scholars. Assessment is critical in planning quality instruction that will allow scholars to internalize essential content concepts and processes.
Carol Ann Tomlinson wrote that "Assessment is today's means of modifying tomorrow's instruction." In using assessment to guide instruction, educators must first gauge what a learner knows; this is often done through the use of pre-assessments. Pre-assessments allow both the educator and the scholar to recognize prior knowledge, and afford opportunities for learners to engage in questioning, formulating, thinking and theorizing in order to construct new knowledge appropriate to their level. I use a plethora of pre-assessments in my science classroom; all of which are based on Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) which actively engages all students, especially CLD scholars. Examples of such pre-assessments include: anticipation guides, concepts maps, KWL charts, making predictions (about a science experiment), pre-writing activity, free writing activity, drawing related to science topic, and questionnaires.
Ongoing assessment throughout the learning process is also critical as it provides the teacher with direction on which concepts to review, or which new topics to introduce during instruction. Throughout the teaching and learning process in the classroom, I combine both formative and summative assessments. I believe that formative assessment should be a part of instructional process; it provides the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. I think of formative assessments as 'assessments for learning' or how educators can use assessments in instruction, to help students learn more. It informs both teachers and students about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made, and thus formative assessment is pedagogy and clearly cannot be separated from instruction. Formative assessments allow for more variations in how educators collect evidence of what students know. In addition, formative assessments allow for multiple avenues, modifications, and adaptations of assessment tools for students to demonstrate their understanding of concepts, which is critical for CLD and students with special needs. In using formative assessments, I often conduct observations to gather data about student learning to inform instruction, and use questioning strategies to allow opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking and dialogue, which ultimately expands their learning. My scholars often engage in laboratory investigations to extend and refine their knowledge of concepts. Additionally, I often allow scholars to peer edit their assignments prior to submitting them for scoring; this enables them to gain the perspectives of others and to alter or modify their work.
Summative assessments are 'assessments of learning' or how much have students learned at a particular point in time. Summative assessment is an accountability measure that is part of the grading process in my classroom; unit tests/exams and benchmarks. Summative assessment also includes school district and state assessment. Although the information that is obtained from a summative assessment is important, because it occurs after instruction, it happens too far down the learning path to provide information at the classroom level and to make instructional adjustments and interventions during the learning process. Thus educators must use both formative assessment (low stakes and high yield—make the correction and often see the success) and summative assessment (high stakes and low yield—end of the unit and little impact on future instruction), to effectively gauge what a scholar has learned and is now able to demonstrate.
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Learned a lot from your post. My school uses the 100 point scale. It is interesting and makes sense that this was used to designate assignment in WW?1. Your post have given me great resources to check out. I will share these with our professional development team. It would be great if my school could adopt having students assessed when they have mastered the knowledge instead of flying through topics to make them fit the calendar. The post about giving students feed back instead of grades on assignments make sense. My school encourages us to give students feed-back, but have never helped us understand how/why this works and how it relates back to letter grades, or even when to give letter grades.
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Kim-I give your school credit for reflecting on its practices and looking for ways to improve. We just went through accreditation and one thing which was mentioned in the primary report was that my school needed to review its grading and assessment methods.
In relation to your comment on feedback, students appreciate this when it is done well and meet specific parameters. In Susan Brookhart's book "How to Give Effective Feedback (ASCD 2008), she says the following:
[i]1. Feedback has to be timely and frequent.
2. Feedback needs to be specific to the learning goal.
3. Feedback needs to give the student a clear understanding of what to do next on specific learning points. [/i]
When feedback is used as a formative strategy, it can be very powerful. I also like to use this tool to help my student become more metacognitive through reflection. Most of my feedback is centered on questions which cause the students to reflect and form their own answers. I remember my students used to complain because they wanted me to just "give them the answer." When you create the environment of self-directed study, confidence of the student goes up.
Here is another cool thing from the book I learned, feedback doesn't always have to be individualized.The mode of the feedback could be group, oral, written, or even given by peers. If anything I have learned from this is that this strategy promotes a positive learning environment because the students see the effort you make as a teacher in helping them succeed. My students also appreciate that they are not being evaluated/graded until they have enough time to practice their knew knowledge/or skill. Good luck with your schools efforts!
I agree with Ruth - summative assessments should contribute to the final course mark, but not be the final course mark. In addition, having more than one course summative assessment is also a good idea, e.g. a performance assessment (reflecting skills that the students have learned, practiced - and hopefully honed over the course) as well as an exam. And, exams are not the neccessary summative either - but I've found it challenging to get around these.!
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Hi Meg, thank you for your post. I was wondering if you can share what other factors you report in the final grade? How do these factors help stakeholders understand what was learned or understood by the student?
If possible, can you explain what you mean by "exams are not the necessarily summative either." How do you differentiate between a summative assessment and a exam?
In Ontario, it has been mandated that (secondary) school course grades are based 70% on term work and 30% on end of course Summatives. Working with the final 30%,pretty well all science courses, anywhere from 10% to 30% will be from a final exam. The exam component will be higher for the academic courses. The exams should reflect the course concepts taught and be balanced for all concepts. KICA( coming up in a bit) usually reflects the course term breakdown. Most science Summatives include a 2nd component. In the past, we've used learning portfolios in the Bio courses...but the newer teachers are uncomfortable with these- they're not comfortable with a more creative approach to assessment or teaching students to self-evaluate. This year, we are going with a design lab + performance + write-up/analysis for the grade 12's.
Term Work: all work needs to be broken down into the KICA assessment categories: Knowledge/Understanding, Thinking/Investigation, Application (to familiar and unfamiliar scenarios) and communication.
Communication usually runs about 10% of the assessment. I use a rubric designed be a former colleague (Mary Nishio) and have a couple others for mathematical communication, data presentation. Generally, we break the other categories fairly evenly but with a little more to KU and a little less to A.
Students& parents are given course assessment breakdowns at the beginning if the year (we go for the year...not semestered). All tests/assignments have the KICA breakdown beside the questions.
I give my students unit outlines as well (which other dept members have copied) which show them what the unit assessments are.
Our school is for academically able students...and they are pretty assessment-savy.
Interesting Meg-what is the reasoning behind 70% of a grade being based on "term work" and 30% on "summative assessments?" I'm assuming that "term" work takes place within a learning cycle where students are being exposed to new information and skills? Or is this a wrong assumption? Then again, I may be defining summative assessment differently than you and your school system.
In the big picture, I just want the final grade to reflect what was learned and understood. Basing an academic grade on factors that occur within a learning cycle would be a difficult for me to do philosophically and professionally. The system you shared seems to put more emphasis on process and not enough on the end product. There are many paths to the same goal, thanks for sharing.
Hi everyone, this is my first time posting in an NSTA forum, for what that's worth to you. It has been quite interesting to read through from the original question (which on the face of it was a simple "yes" or "no" question, right?) and everything that has been said since.
In fact, this has largely become a forum discussing what grades are and what they mean. This is entirely sensible, because to answer the original question requires a framework for what grades are and what they mean.
(As a brief aside, I had a professor who was educated in Poland, and he said the grading system was structured so that the entire grade was based off of one summative assessment taken at the end of two semesters of classes. Yes, it was a bit tense leading up to that test).
Grades are a subject that I have thought long and hard about, and truth be told, I would be perfectly happy if they didn't exist. I believe that the current grading system turns education into a game where kids work to earn points so that they can be separated into winners (A and B students) and losers (D and F students). Some kids take the game very seriously, and work hard to get an A. They don't care what they are learning, so long as they have an A. Many kids think the game is dumb and don't bother playing. In some cases, it's because they know they are going to lose, and they figure the harder they try, the dumber they'll look. http://www.despair.com/humiliation.html, or perhaps this is the message they've already taken to heart http://www.despair.com/potential.html. And certainly, a number of them could be the poster child for this one. http://www.despair.com/indifference.html
I could go on and on with why some kids try and others don't, but the point still remains, despite the serious outcomes, education is very much a game for the vast majority of the students. Just as a completed game can be simply summarized by one letter (W or L), so too is education a game that is finally summarized by one simple letter. And just as team rankings don't care about how well or poorly deserved your W's or L's are, neither do kids care too much about how well deserved their letter grades are. They only care what the final letter is.
So my biggest gripe about letter grades convey no information to the students about what they know and can do, or about how they can improve on it. Students do not ask "Am I good?" they simply ask "Am I good enough?" with what is "good enough" being largely their decision. It really frustrates me to watch bright kids coast with virtually no effort while I teach at a pace that is comfortable for 85% of the class. (and I have said nothing yet about how one teacher's C might be another teacher's A).
To that end, I'm working on developing a standards based approach that would allow kids to demonstrate mastery of specific skills. Students who quickly master the basic skills could then go on to work on more advanced skills (and would be expected to do so). The students would have a list of what the objectives were, and what would constitute mastery of that skill, so they would have feedback as to their performance. Failure to work on progressing in a skill could result in disciplinary action--regardless of how many skill they have already mastered. I'd like to take the approach taking by running coaches: the most important person to compete against is yourself. At the end of the year, the students would have a clear list of skills they had mastered during the course of the year--a list they could read and interpret, and hopefully be proud of. I see no reason why points need to be part of this, or why this information should ever have to be summarized as a single letter. Alas, I currently have no choice in the matter.
Some of you in this forum have mentioned using standards based grading. This is something I am interested in and have been working on developing. What resources does anyone here know of to move in this direction?
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Eric thanks for your post and sharing your insights. I think it is great that you looking to refine your grading/assessment practices so that they are inline with specific learning goals ([i]i.e standards[/i])You asked for resources here is my personal library.
-[b]Robert Marzano[/b] "[url=http://www.amazon.com/Formative-Assessment-Standards-Based-Grading-Strategies/dp/0982259220/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332442511&sr=8-1]Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading[/url]," "[url=http://www.amazon.com/Classroom-Assessment-Grading-That-Work/dp/1416604227/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332442561&sr=1-1]Classroom Assessment And Grading That Works[/url]"
-[b]Thomas Guskey/Jane Baily[/b] " [url=http://www.amazon.com/Developing-Grading-Reporting-Learning-Assessment/dp/080396854X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332442610&sr=1-1]Developing Grading and Reporting Systems for Student Learning[/url]," [url=http://www.amazon.com/Practical-Solutions-Serious-Problems-Standards-Based/dp/1412967252/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332442660&sr=1-2]Practical Solutions for Serious Problems in Standards-Based Grading[/url]
-[b]Susan Brookhart[/b] "[url=http://www.amazon.com/Assessment-Grading-Classrooms-Susan-Brookhart/dp/0132217414/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332442714&sr=1-1]Assessment and Grading in the Classroom[/url]"
-[b]Douglas Reeves[/b] "[url=http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Grading-Guide-Effective-Practice/dp/1935542125/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332442764&sr=1-1]Elements of Grading: A Guide to Effective Practice[/url]"
-[b]Rick Wormeli[/b]-"[url=http://www.amazon.com/Fair-Isnt-Always-Equal-Wormeli/dp/1571104240/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332442808&sr=1-1]Fair isn't Always Equal[/url]"
-[b]Kenn O'Conner[/b] "[url=http://www.amazon.com/How-Grade-Learning-K-12-OConnor/dp/1412953820/ref=pd_rhf_se_shvl2]How to Grade For Learning[/url]"
All of these books can be purchased through Amazon-they are amazing resources that have helped me to transform my grading, assessment, and reporting practices. [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-QF9Q4gxVM]Rick Wormeli[/url] has a pretty cool video on Standards Based Grading and Doug Reeves on "[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduiAnm-O3w]Toxic Grading Practices[/url]." I share these videos with parents and students every year so that they better understand my assessment and grading procedures.
Grading and assessment will always be a subjective act, the goal is to reduce this subjectivity and the best way to do this is to link all grades/assessment to learning outcomes and use a tool which is fair and accurate. ([i]i.e even distribution scale[/i])
If you need help please do not hesitate to ask......I also put a PDF from Thomas Guskey for your review.
High_School_Grading-Thomas_Guskey.pdf (0.24 Mb)
Hi Eric and welcome to the discussion forums! I really appreciated reading your post. You made several fantastic insights. Mario provided you with several excellent resources. I've attached one more article that was published in Educational Leadership in October 2008.
While I see several benefits of modifying our current grading system to a standards based grading system, I'm curious if anyone teaching in a district that grades based on standards has found any disadvantages to this system?
Standards_based_grading.pdf (1.72 Mb)
Maureen-thanks for your resource. The only challenge I have faced in terms of system change has been in administrators and teachers that are not current in educational reform. The other challenge that was raised by this population is that colleges will not accept such systems. This is a major misconception. In my work with 300 college and universities admission officers, there is not problem as long as transcript reflect what the grade means and how grades/gpa was calculated. Standards based grading provides more information than grades not linked to standards.
At the classroom level, I have not have had many challenge once students and parents are educated in current methods of grading/assessment. Again, the biggest challenge has been with adults not wanting to change practice/policies which are not student/learning focused.
My understanding of standards-based grading is that the final assessment should determine students' final grades. I do not think it is fair to average the formative assessment and summative assessment results, especially if students did poorly on early formative assessments. In my classroom, the data that I gather from formative assessments guide my instruction. However, I would definitely take formative assessment data into consideration if a student did poorly on the summative assessment but scored well on formative assessments. The student might have been having an off day or the assessment was poorly constructed.
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