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Please calculate the final grade you would give for a student who receives the following 10 grades during a semester: C, C, MA (Missing Assignment), D, C, B, MA, MA, B, A. What would you give this student? Doug Reeves of Leadership and Learning has asked this same exact scenario to many educators and he gets the full spectrum from A's to F's as the student's final grade. Doug Reeves goes on to discuss about teachers' grading scales being the concern and not the students.
I have been thinking about the traditional grading scale that I currently use (90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, and 0-59=F) and if it is really a fair grading scale. It seems like the F range is rather large, is 50% completion/understanding a failing grade? And have you noticed the drastic change in a student's grade when you enter a 0 for an assignment. One of Reeves suggestions in [u]Effective Reading Practices[/u] is that missing assignments is not allowed, the student must finish the assignment. I have also talked with teachers that don't put a zero, but give students a failing grade (50% of the points) in the grade book for assignments they have not turned in. Is that fair? Are we to give students points for not turning anything in?
This brings me to another question... what are points? The same assignment for one teacher could be 10 points and for another teacher it would be 100 points. Is giving this "value" of an assignment what has driven students towards this "busy-work" mentality to do their homework for the "points" and not to actually LEARN something? I have said this myself to students "Some points are better than no points" and I this mindset is not encouraging my students to learn from the assignment, but to simply get it done and turn it in.
There are some alternative grading systems I have heard and read about, one being Marzano's four point grading scale. I haven't researched it very much, but I believe the idea is that each point is based on quantity, quality, accuracy of knowledge and work. In short, did you do the work, but more importantly, did you demonstrate your understanding? Is this a more fair way to assess our students? Or is it lowering our standard of success by making a 50% a passing grade.
What grading scale do you use to assign a grade to your students? Do you think a four point grading scale would work in a science classroom? Is giving 0's to students fair?
Thank you for your input.
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The idea of giving students a zero is more correctly seen from the perspective of the students that completed the assignment. Is it fair to give them credit when they did not at least attempt the assignment when other students did. It might also be that the students were not able to finish the assignment because of other commitments, but classwork should be their First commitment.
I am not sure if the four-point scale would be a sufficient way to evaluate students. This seems to decrease the grades need to achieve understanding.
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I've found a way around much of this (though not all of it). I use a combination of oral assessments (for lower Bloom's Taxonomy type stuff, like vocabulary) and a menu for each unit. At the "C" level, students self-select a variety of assignments that add up to 75 points. All of these assignments are assessed verbally by me - if it's a crossword puzzle for vocabulary, it might be worth ten points. When they finish it, I do a quick oral quiz. If they pass, they get their points, if not, they have to go study some more.
Things get a little tougher at the "B" level, where students select another 10 or 15 points. Sometimes these are graded orally, sometimes not, depending on the assignment, which will be about mid-level Bloom's. Finally, to get an "A" students must create something (highest level of Bloom's) for another 10 or 15 points, depending on your school's grading scale.
It's a lot more work on the front end, and it takes some getting used to. My advice is to start small if you ever want to work with graduated lesson plans, but they do work. Also, get the support of your administrator. Some kids (and parents) will FLIP when they find out they physically did an assignment, but didn't get credit for it because they couldn't pass the oral questions. I explain (over and over again) that finishing an assignment is not the end goal in my classroom, learning from it is, and until they can prove they learned from it, they get no points from me.
This is a great discussion. How do other teachers handle grading in their classrooms?
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I am currently a student and will be student teaching in the fall, next semester. I am curious how other teachers keep a grade book. In my opinion, it would not be fair to give a student 50% on a missing assignment. It is the student's responsibility to turn in their work and make sure I have received it. For a student with missing work, I would give them 0 points for it.
I am also confused that the same assignment may be worth 10 puts for teacher #1 and 50 points for teacher #2. How do teachers assign points to certain assignments? How do I know that I have assigned the sufficient amount of points for an assignment?
I also think teachers should be upfront about their grading scale. Students should be aware of how their work will be graded. Teacher should have a system set up in their classroom where students are aware of when assignments need to be turned in, what to do with late assignments (can they still turn them in and receive full points?). In my future classroom, I plan to create a system where students are aware of the grading system. I also will clarify to my future students that it is their responsibility to turn in their work and to make sure I have it.
I think you brought up a great idea of having a free choice of assignments that students need to complete. The only requirement is for students to complete enough assignments to reach 75 points. I love the idea of allowing the students a choice of how they would like to complete a summative assessment. This allows for their creativity to show. It also allows for students to show what they have learned a way that they feel they will succeed the most. Students will also be excited about choosing their own summative assessment. It makes them feel as if they have a voice in how they share what they have learned. Great idea!
Thanks for sharing your ideas! It definitely will help me plan my future assignments and how I evaluate them.
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I give a syllabus at the beginning of the year that lays out my whole grading policy...other teachers in my dept make fun of me for how thorough it is, but I put a lot of info in it to cover all my bases because of the multitude of excuses that I get.
For example--I recently gave a genetic disorder project in my bio classes and this was the policy on the turn in date...seems overboard, but it was needed!
"IF you are absent on the day the posters are presented and your absence is unexcused, Monday February 23, 2015, you will lose all presentation points.
The project is due Monday, February 23, 2015. If it is not turned in on this date, you will lose 25% of the points each day it is late. If it is not turned in by February 27, 2015…you will get a 0 on this project. If you are absent on the 23rd and your absence is unexcused, your project is considered late. If you are absent on the 23rd, and your absence is excused, it will be due at the start of class the day you return, if you do not have it that day, then it will be considered that many days late. (ex: If you have excused absences on the 23rd and 24th, and return on the 25th and you do not turn in your poster it will be considered 2 days late at that point in time.) IF you miss a day of school between 2/12 and 2/23, you do not get extra time to complete the project due to your absence."
Our school requires that all subject classes have the same weighting applied to each category to eliminate the disparity in the grading between classes.
For example the chemistry grading scale at my school is
Homework is 20%
Labs are 20%
Quizzes are 15%
Tests are 25%
Final is 20%
That way it doesn't matter how many points each assignment is worth as homework over all is 20%
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Wow, that's great Kendra. I can imagine the reaction from students and parents about that. My question is how do you keep track or record that they have told you verbally and passed the oral part of the assignment? And second, when do you find time to listen to all of your students orally tell you the concepts they understand? I love the idea and really want to apply that into my curriculum, and I have some ideas, however I wanted to get your quick thoughts on timing first.
Thanks again for sharing!
Hi Robert -
My organization method is pretty simple. Each child has a file folder and each unit is copied onto different colored paper. I create a type of checklist for each assignment and just check each assignment off as we go (I initial each assignment so that in the event a student gets their hands on his/her unit sheet, they're not able to mark off their own items). I use sleeve protectors for a classroom set of menus, so that students can refer to the menus as needed and to keep from making two copies of everything. New unit sheets are simply stapled on top of the old ones. Unit sheets are not allowed to leave the classroom - if they need to do one of the assignments for homework they must write it down like they always have.
I orally assess students while students are working. The biggest rule in my classroom is that you must ALWAYS be working. There are those students who will be perfectly happy with a "C" - so if they finish the "C" level a week before the unit is finished, well, looks like they have no choice but to work toward a "B" this time. The nice thing about that is, once they get a taste of making a "B" or -gasp- even an "A," they just can't seem to resist doing it again and again. And another thing to keep in mind, just ask one or two comprehension-type questions for each assignment. If they know it - they know it and you can move on. If not, you get to clarify misconceptions and direct them to other learning resources on the spot.
Making time for the oral assessments is indeed the hardest part of managing this. This is why I strongly suggest starting small. Give one or two assignments for oral assessment to get a feel for how it will work in your classroom. I learned early on that I needed to limit the number of times a student can request an oral defense in a single class period (mine are limited to two times) - but during that time they can orally defend no more than 5 assignments. This keeps your time from being monopolized by your more zealous students - and they are usually more than happy to work on something else once their time is up (gifted students will soar through "C" level and often through "B" level, but "A" level keeps 'em nice and busy for a while). Also, for really advanced students, it's okay to give them copies of the next unit early - on the condition that they can't orally defend until the rest of the class starts that unit.
Another twist I added was an "EASY" button from Staples. I hot-glued magnets to the back and stuck it to my board. I have two columns, one for questions and one for oral defenses. When students are ready for defense or have a question, they go up and hit my EASY button and write their name in the correct column. Questions, of course, take priority. This way 10 students aren't flapping their arms in the air or yelling my name at the same time. It only took me a single day to learn to keep my eye on that list.
My favorite part of this method is that I truly become a facilitator. I'm encouraging, directing learning, assessing, and directing learning. Never again will you have the desire to yell, "But I've explained this FOURTEEN times!" Instead it's, "Yeah, this topic is really giving you a tough time. Why don't you go over this with Sarah, and if you're still having trouble, I have this great website that might help."
Feel free to ask any more questions - I love this stuff! :)
Aloha Robert, great discussion you posted. Three years ago I moved form the traditional grading scale to the even distribution scale. The main reason I did this was based on what I learned from Robert Marzano's book on Grading and Assessment-The 100 pt scale was never intended to be used in education, it was a tool that the military used to screen soldiers in WWII. The other problem I have with 100 point scale (as you pointed out) is that there is a disproportionate distribution of how grades are calculated, a student has 50% chance of failing. Three years ago I adopted the even distribution scale so that my grading was accurate and fair to all stuedents. Since adopting this scale, I no longer have to use practices that are known to inflate/deflate a students grade. The work of Reeves, Wormelii, Marzano, and Guskey address how grades should reflect what is learned. This is why my grade represents 95% summative assessment based on learning standards.
3.5 years of data for 300 students shows that this system of reporting academic achievement shows that this system is more clear than the past system I used.
Grading will always be a subjective task yet we can make it more objective if we use science process skills to determine the grade and the grade is linked to achievement of standards and demonstration of process skills.
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The grading policy in my classroom is as follows:
This may include labs and projects; any written (i.e. worksheet, textbook practice, etc.) assignment, media presentation, or oral exercise based on daily objectives completed inside the classroom by an individual or group of students, aligned to the Curriculum Framework Progress Guide.
Evaluative Indicator- Reported as total points or percentage grade.
This may include any written or media presentation based on daily or weekly objectives completed outside the classroom by an individual or group of students.
Evaluative Indicator:- Teacher may check for completion by student and assign points accordingly.
Assessments- 45%This may include labs or hands on activities; projects or any evaluation that reflects the student’s performance on a summary of chapter, unit or module objectives.
Evaluative Indicator- Reported as percentage of mastery of content and skills.
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I am also interested in adopting a different grading system - something that more fairly evaluates what the student knows or the demonstrated knowledge/skill of the student.
However, in defense of homework - not all homework is busy work. :-) My homework is assigned as extra practice for my students. I only see my students for 40 minutes in a day, so I sometimes need them to take time to practice or reinforce what we have learned in class that day.
Yet, I do not believe in setting my students up to fail. And I recognize that not everyone has the same home environment. So, I acknowledge there can be times when no one is home to make sure "work" is getting completed; or maybe the student had to work or care for younger siblings after school...
So here is my homework policy: First I do not grade homework for accuracy at the first "turn-in". I simply initial the bottom corner, and note any sections/questions not completed. After I have initialed the homework, I turn the homework back to the students (usually the next day), and we go over it class. Students are required/encouraged to make corrections as we go over it in class. Students, who did not complete the assignment, can complete it at that time for partial credit, and students that have lost the original worksheet/instructions are encouraged to take notes, which they will turn in for partial credit also. So the only way to get a 0 on homework, is to just sit there in class and not do anything the day we go over homework. After we go over the homework in class, I grade the homework and assign points based upon correctness of answers and timeliness of completion.
Is it possible to adopt a 4 point system of grading within a set grading scale of a school district? Does anyone have experience with doing this, and if so, how does it work?
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Not enough information...
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My school has a grading policy that cannot be changed, the math and science department grade everything the same way. My learning assignments (we do not call them homework) is worth 25 points. I usually allow the kids one week after the due date to turn it in. Then their classwork (notebook checks, independent practices and exit slips) are worth 55 points. My exit slips are all state aligned to the standards and reflect what a state question would look like. Then there is behavior for 10 points and attendance for another 10 points. I count my labs as learning assignments because I wasn't sure where else I could put them. The state test was in the beginning of the year worth 10 points but because the grades were given so late we could change the last category to what we picked.
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Susanne stated "However, in defense of homework - not all homework is busy work. :-) My homework is assigned as extra practice for my students. I only see my students for 40 minutes in a day, so I sometimes need them to take time to practice or reinforce what we have learned in class that day."
The only reason why I do not grade homework is because I cannot guarantee that the student really did it independently. The other reason why I do not grade homework is because I use it as a formative activity and provide feedback only. I reserve grades for summative assessments only. I guess it just comes down to what you feel needs to be graded....
I have used both scales of grading -- the traditional A,B, C and such and the point system. I really liked the point system and found it helpful for students to comprehend where they were on the continuum after I posted what points were associated with an A, B and C etc. For students that are motivated this worked well. For students with special needs they had extra or modified assignments within this point system. However, when our district went to recorded grades that parents could access throughout the school year, I had to go back to the traditional method. Furthermore, teaching in the district I did required that no student int he middle school grades could be given a grade lower than 50% did not adequately represent students who actually tried and those who refused to work or do anything. I wish the point system could be used instead but the public (parents and often students) don't quite get it.
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The question I have AdA is what type of reporting of best for students? Is a reporting method which is based on statistical inaccuracy (100 point scale) beneficial students? Should academic achievement be reported separately from non academic factor such as behavior? Should the reporting method be linked to academic goals (i.e standards)?
I understand the challenges in changing practice (especially grading/assessment), most of the challenges come from people who do not understand (such as students/parents). In relation to district control of such practices, sometimes these leaders need to be educated in practices which are student centered. Most decisions made at these levels are political and not stakeholder centered. If we are advocates of our students, shouldn't we be the models of change?
Can you explain the even distribution scale? Did you have to get it approved by the administration? How does the grade appear on student reports?
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Patricia, great questions. The "even distribution" scale is no different a ruler. Grades are separated equally along the scale. If your using % to quantify a grade then the scale would look like [b]100-80[/b] is an A, [b]79.99-59.99[/b] is a B, etc. Statistically, a student has the [i]same[/i] chance of getting an A as an F. I often get told that this method "[i]inflates the grade[/i]" yet this is not possible for me because 95% of their grade is based on performance summative assessments. I report non academic factors separately and no longer use practices which compensate for the statistical disparity of the 100 point scale. Based on four years of data I have collected on 320 students, 23% of my students obtained Mastery of Standards (A), 55% Met Standards (B), 15% demonstrated Approaching Standards, 6% Below Standards (D), and 1% F.
As for getting permission from the administration-yes I received permission. The methods I used are based on current work in grading, assessment, and reporting. In fact my administration sponsored that I attend these workshops and supported me implementing what I learned into practice. The school is using my data to begin difficult discussions on grading, reporting, and assessment. Our current policy reflects the use of the 100 point scale yet when it comes to grading practice and how teachers determine final grades-there is no consistency. Teachers are given the liberty to weight grading categories as they see fit, include non academic factors, etc. I don't need to do this, the scale I use allows me to set high expectations (95% summative).
As for how it looks on a report card. A student that receives an A will reflect an A on the transcript. The method in how the A was calculated is no different than how the majority of colleges and universities calculate final grade point averages. Most colleges use an even distribution scale based on the 5 point scale (4.0, 3.0, 2.0,1.0. 0.0 etc). If teacher wanted to make their grading practices transparent, they should consider reporting how much of the final grade is determined by non academic factors? Or if procedures like "grading-on-a-curve" were used. Check out this video by Douglas Reeves on [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jduiAnm-O3w]Toxic Grading [/url]Practices. I put many of these ideas into practice also ([i]no averaging, no curves, no grading non academic behavior[/i]).
Personally grades will always be subjective and will never truly represent what was learned or understood. Since grades matter outside of high school, I found it urgent to use an accurate scale and practices which promote understanding. Basing a grade on 95% assessment and using an even distribution scale helped me to accomplish this goal while empowering my students to control of their academic performance.
I have been struggling with this for the last several years. Especially in AP. the traditional method of grading seems to accentuate errors instead of reflecting level of achievement. As time goes on in the school year, students who are working, but not quite getting it see that they are getting farther away from getting higher han a C. By the end of the year some would give up. In reality, they were doing a decent job and were successful at a portion of the material. This year, i am trying to teach myself about standards based grading and have been using a scheme i devised. Students take an assessment. Maybe i have problems that represent 4 objectives. A student achieves success on 3/4 and shows only minimal comprehension on the 4 th objective. In a traditional scheme they would have a 75. In my new method they have been successful on 3 and need to keep working on the 4 th. i have activities they can do to strengthen. Then they can reassess.
Works pretty well so far. At least they are all still positive and engaged. At the end of the semester, a good number of students designed their own activities to show achievement.
Dan thank you for sharing your insights. I like that you shared your observation about C students. If you look at the traditional scale there is a 59% chance of getting an F. What your students are fighting against is this disparity in the scale your using to measure their understanding. How do you compensate for this disparity? As far as standards based grading, each grade is determined by an assessment which is linked to a standard. If your assessment measures multiple standards then you will have multiple grades reflecting this knowledge. Standards based grading and standards referenced grading is different. In standards based grading students do not move on until the standard is met. Most schools are not set up to do this because that would mean that some students would not go on to the next grade level.
In the big picture a grading scale is just a tool to report learning, it is not the source of learning. The effectiveness of your practice and the methods you use to support learning are major factors in how successful a student is. For instance, I have students analyzing data and writing science explanations. Work that doesn't meet rubric or doesn't meet the standard is being returned to the student for revision. These revisions receive specific and timely feedback so that the student can improve their understanding of the topic. Providing them this revision opportunity also holds them to a higher standard while also supporting a positive relationship between student and teacher.
Thanks, Mario, for your thorough explaination of standards-based grading. I enjoyed the video and the philosophy espoused in it.
I remember years ago making my students re do and revise work. Unfortunately, some never made the work up or chose to NOT revise it. In your system, that student would not receive a passing with mastery grade. Any tips on how to get students to redo and revise? Are due dates abolished with this system? I am just trying to figure out some of the classroom management pieces associated with this type of grading.
Aloha Patricia, you bring up some points related to students not having the motivation to do the corrections and the management behind this. In my experience letting the student know the purpose behind revisions and my role in helping them demonstrate mastery is crucial. Most students will only do the work if its purposeful and relevant-this is why differentiation is essential. Teenagers do not have "self-regulation" skills that adults have, teaching them these skills is important.
I have fixed deadlines and if they do not meet the deadline they get zeros. Giving a zero is not my goal though, I still need to assess what was learned. So with this population of students I sit down with them and discuss the challenges they experienced-most of the challenges are life skills and not their knowledge of the subject. For example last week I had a project due on cellular reproduction, some students met the deadline while others did not. Those that did not are now taking a standardized online assessment. The talk the classroom now is "[i]I should have done the project[/i]." Experiences like this shape behavior because I am holding them accountable for the decisions they make while not using my grade book to address behavior. My grade book still reports academic achievement while behavior is reported separately and not part of the final grade.
Zeros are options. The student learn quick that I will hold them accountable for the choices they make. They also know that I will provide them unconditional support to help them understand the learning goals. The only way a zero will remain in the grade book is if I ran out of time and or interventions were not effective. I have to turn in grades every quarter, students know that I will not take revisions a week before grades are due. The other factor that is important is my grading scale is evenly distributed (5 point scale 4,3,2,1,0 [Mastery, Meeting, Approaching, Below, Not Scorable) and I do not average scores. If a "0," is given it is easy to recover from it by doing well on a future assessment. You give a "0" on the 100 point scale and combine this with grade averaging, a student will never recover unless you inflate the grade.
My system is not perfect, it is constantly being challenged but all and all, it works well. I actually spend less time dealing with non academic factors because students take ownership in their learning. They quickly learn there is consequences to the decisions they make. As long as your consistent and have interest of students, the system works fine.
This is a very timely topic for me as our district is in the process of converting to a Standards Based Reporting System. It has been at least 5 years in the making and has gone through multiple revisions. It is is a HUGE paradigm shift for teachers, students, and most of all, parents. I wonder how staff members go about traiing their parent community in order to help them understand these changes. Did you have a parent preview night? Were the teachers tasked with this at the beginning of the year? I am very interested in how my administration and staff is going to help transition students to this new system.
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I agree with you Jenn, it is a major paradigm shift for adults. What kind of work has your school done the last five years to address the topics of grading and assessment? To help students/parents understand the system, I had to educate them in current grading/assessment practices and the use of standards based curriculum. For the most part parents accept the methods because they is logic behind the practices. I had to send out literature and resources to parents so the understood. In 4 years I only had 4 face to face conferences with parents to review the system. These discussion entailed helping them to understand that the old system of reporting did not provided limited information about learning goals and achievements. Education is key, once the parents and students understand the benefits, they tend to advocate for its use. To be honest, the biggest challenges I have faced are fellow teachers/administrators/ and councilors who do not see the value in systemic change.
Once again, Mario, thank you for your insight and taking the time to post such lengthy explanations. I currently teach a pass/fail gifted pull-out program and few of the students are accomplishing much at all. This is a new program and it has no set curriculum (although that may be changing). I really like the idea of standards-based graded, or of at least changing from pass-fail to mastery, meeting, approaching, etc. Thank you again!
Actually Patricia, I thank you and the rest who have engaged in this thread. Discussing practices and sharing philosophy can be an isolating experience, I have learned a lot from all of you.
Patricia, you mentioned that some of your gifted students are not accomplishing some of your learning goals. What role do they play in creating these goals? This situation reminds me of one student I have that refuses to do projects. He is test savvy and does really well on traditional exams. When it comes down to group work or projects, he doesn't do so well. His 21st Life Skills needs to be refined. This quarter I learned that he likes to work with computers and has designed websites. Because of this skill, he is now making an ePortfolio and has become a "class expert" and resource to the other students. His demeanor has changed and he is now producing quality work. Weird how things happen yet as teachers we need to find unique ways for our students to demonstrate their knowledge and have a say in the process. The only thing that works against us is time.
It takes time to link learning goals (i.e standards) to the interest of our students yet if we want them to learn and to have buy-in, we also have to be creative and not tie ourselves to fixed curriculum which limit our ability to serve our students. You would be surprised on how receptive students are when accommodations are made on their behalf. In the process we could learn something too.
What I have started doing for the kids who are not turning in assignments is giving them a grade of 50 rather than a zero. Basically, the lowest grade I will give is a 50. A 50 is still failing no matter how you look at it according to the grading scale that our school system uses (A=100-90, B=89-80, C=79-75, D= 74-70, F=69 and lower). However, when you give a child a zero, it makes it way more difficult for them to pull their grade back up. A 50 is still a failing grade. If a student does not turn in any work, they are still going to fail. This is beneficial to those students who do normally do their work but may forget one night or have some type of special circumstance that would prevent them from doing their homework. This way, the students who do their work still get the grade they deserve and the kids who do not do their work get the grade they deserve (a failing one).
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Brittany, this is a wonderful accommodation to make on behalf of your students. You basically converted a 100pt scale to an even distribution scale. Yet the true value to students is not the scale, but the interventions you use to have them succeed. For instance, what do you do if your students do not meet one of your learning standards? Do you move on or do you re-teach? Or do you give another form of the assessment? I personally feel that interventions and how you use formative assessment is more critical then the scale you use to report academic achievement. Using an even distribution scale is just "icing on the cake" in helping students to achieve.
I LOVE your approach and wonder it you might share an example.
Here is an approach I have taken
The issue of what we should consider failing on a point scale is complex. The only justification that I could see for assigning a zero would be for a student who actively undermined the learning process (refused all invitations to participate, lit his assignments on fire, …..If an “A” is excellent accomplishment a zero is excellent failure. On most assignments (though not on test) I use the balance point (50) between 0 and 100 as the point where a student may not have done anything positive but they did not do anything negative either. I tell my students that for lab assignments they a start with a 5O and point can be added or subtracted according to performance.
I like the idea of NOT allowing missed assignments. For a certain cadre of students allowing missed assignments is a reward- they got out of work and are not being held accountable. Again we are starting from 50. Active refusal is still an option and I will deduct points. However in this case points are being subtracted for something the student did and not for something they did not do.
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I just now saw your post, sorry about the late response. I'm looking for an electronic copy of my unit sheets so I can upload them. It appears I may have misplaced a flash drive (gasp!).
I also agree 100% about not allowing students to earn zeros. I even attempted it one year and got administrator permission to hold "Saturday School" for students who had failed to turn in work. It had a great impact for some students while others just honestly didn't care. I think I might use your line about zeroes only for those who manage to "excellently fail" an assignment for those students.
Now off to look for that flash drive again. If I don't find it soon I'll scan in my hard copies and upload those for you.
Thanks Kendra, I am looking forward to these!
Kendra, I'm glad you addressed the idea of not accepting zero's. I really like the idea that Rick Wormeli addresses "Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs." One thing he addresses in his video is that "failure is an option and it is often preferred" he goes on to state that exposure to "consistent success doesn't teach us as much as to failure." In my course I create an environment in which issuing a zero is not logical considering the amount of interventions I use within the grading period. In Quarter 3, 5 students did not submit their projects at the end of the quarter. These students received "0" for not meeting the rubric criteria.
Wormeli goes on to state that "its o.k to fail" yet there also has to be a way to recover from this failure." In the case of the 5 students, all submitted their final q portfolio for Quarter 4. This was the first time that 100% of my students submitted their portfolios on time and according to rubric criteria.
Should students grade reflect what was learned or should it reflect what was not learned?
If I could extend the school year, zeros would not be issued for work not done. I try my best to prevent this from taking place but at the same time, there are things outside of my control in which this ideal cannot take place.
There are two similar discussions in this forum, “Standards Based Grading in Science”, http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=!plus!4LPCcarvyU_E and Using Science Process Skills to Determine Grades, http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=5UU!plus!7bLsyT4_E .
The biggest conversation we are having at my middle school right now is whether or not we should be using plusses or minuses in our grading. Some teachers do, so do not. The concern is coming from the students that no longer have a 4.0 GPA because they received an A- in one of their classes. That means they won’t be recognized at our end of the year promotion ceremony as a two year, 4.0 student. Part of the conversation is based on the fact that it’s a random draw of who you get for a teacher. If you happen to get all of the teachers that don’t give plusses or minuses, you have a better chance of making the 4.0 list.
My personal point of view is our state assessments give 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0’s for their scores. If I am using standards based scoring, then I should be using the same system the state does. If a student chooses to not do or turn in the work, then my grade book shows a blank, which when calculated for a final grade is a 0 or F. The blank is pretty apparent to the parent that their son or daughter made no effort whatsoever to show what they know. Any of the other scores indicates their ability based on the standards.
I gave up giving homework grades close to ten years ago. It became really obvious parents were doing a lot of the work when they would come to me to talk about the paper, project or assessment and then tell me they “never received less than a B in their entire lives.”
I have been able to modify the software to accept the 4, 3, 2, 1, 0 scale, but unfortunately the program we use automatically averages the grades and assigns a letter grade to the average.
We have adopted the policy that “Zeros Aren’t Permitted:, aka ZAP. Theoretically students would be ZAP’ped, parents robo-called and then the student would have to stay after school on Friday to catch up on their work so there would be no zeros. Nice theory, but it really doesn’t work. One, ZAP is now punitive and we are a PBIS school. So, ZAP became “An opportunity to get your work caught up.” Right. Give middle school students a choice of staying at school and getting their work caught up or go home and be with their friends.
The outcome? When you look at the data, out of our 700 seventh and eighth graders, 54% received at least one D or F on their report card. 350 students are on their way to failure for graduation because they won’t turn in work. The problem is getting worse with each passing day and year. We pass students on to the high school regardless of their state assessment scores or their grades in middle school. We have a “promotion ceremony” at the end of the year where all students get their name read and are promoted to high school even if they have a 0.00 GPA for the two years in middle school, just the same as if you had a 4.0 GPA and took high school Algebra, Geometry or Spanish as part of their coursework.
With state and national assessments in the graduation picture, grades and scores are mere benchmarks that should accurately portray how a student will do when they sit for the formal assessment. Theoretically their grade should reflect a very similar score as they will receive on the state or national assessment.
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Our school district is in the pilot stage for Standards Based Grading this year. Only few teachers from different disciplines are piloting it but we are looking forward to increase the number of users next year.
The discussions on the grading on a 100 point scale is still part of our discussions and everything mentioned in this thread has been discussed. We invited Wormelli for several years now and the district would like to see success.
I enjoyed reading the discussion thread and the suggestions/methods used by others. Thank you.
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Hi. I have seen many great ways to solve the homework problem as a student. One method was to have 2-5 homework passes that a student can use. If they miss an assignment for any reason, the student can use one of the homework passes to extend the due date by one day. Another way to do homework is to assign ungraded homework. This can be a video, worksheet, activity, or studying. Ungraded homeworks help the student to learn and allows it to be for learning and not the homework grade. The penalty for not doing it is doing worse on assessments, and students learn this very quickly.
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I think this whole concept of Wormelli's is a load of crap. The 100 point system has been in effect for a very long time, what has changed? Kids want to do less and less as the time goes by...instead of telling them that doing less is unacceptable...we say "oh ok, well let me make it easier for you to get a better grade while you do less."
I think I can provide an example of where this discussion has been taken too far. Our district recently opened middle schools. These retake/redo--wormelli discussions--standards based grading etc have all been thrown at us over the past few years.
At the high school we see our incoming freshmen coming in less and less prepared for high school each year. We were hoping with the middle school structure, our freshmen next year would be more prepared...until we heard how unaccountable students were held at the middle schools.
They have a no 0 policy...however, it doesn't have the whole "measuring learning vs work" concept that is championed in this thread.
If a student doesn't turn in a homework assignment it goes in the gradebook as a 0. The student has until the last day of the grading period (Semester) to turn in the assignment for full credit. If the student doesn't turn that assignment in, the teacher changes the 0 to a 50%.
If a student gets less than a 50% on a test, they get to retake the test...if their grade is still below a 50% then the teacher must enter a grade of 50% into the gradebook.
How is this helping the kids learn?
How is this helping the kids learn?
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Thank you for sharing! It was very helpful. I like that your school has a universal weighted grading system. It makes it easier to grade assignments.
I also believe that your late assignment policy is fair. When given upfront, the students are aware of how you will be grading your work and your expectations. It minimizes the amount of excuses you may receive. I will be receiving my degree in Elementary Education/Special Education. How could I adjust your assignment policy to fit elementary standards? I think it would be okay for intermediate elementary students. I want my students to gain responsibility of their own work and be responsible to for turning in their own assignments. However, what about primary elementary students? Would I rely mainly on the parents? I know communication with parents is extremely important. However, I do not want the parents completing the work for students.
Thank you for sharing again!
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I use standards based grading. I have shared that in the Learning Center.
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Objective_Based_Grading_Parent_description.doc (0.06 Mb)
Standards_Based_Grading_presentation2.pdf (1.21 Mb)
Hi Robert, we use the same scale in our district. We have a debate about whether to give a "0" or "55" for assignments not turned in. I personally prefer to give "0". I mean honestly is it fair to the other students who do the work. If they simply don't even try then they should receive a "0". What message are we sending to them that it's ok not to do the work. That 55 could be a whole grade level. Ex: if a students has 100; 80; 53; 0 the average would be 58 on the other hand if the 0 was changed to 55 the average would be 74 (if my math is correct). See the difference, is that fair to the ones who struggle and get their assignments in on time. I use "55" because in our district we are not allowed to put a grade below "55". What does this say to the parents? I realize that not all students have access to computers or internet so my assignments can be hand written on loose-leaf paper. If it is something that requires research I take them to the computer lab so they can research what they need. I try to make everything convenient for them and the parent. Not only that but also the students have an entire week to complete the assignment. If I assign it on Monday its due the following Monday. So it is hard for me to accept late assignments. Our district policy is to allow students an extra "3" days to turn in assignments. I don't feel I need to allow that since they had a week already.
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