Monday, July 27, 2009

Chapter 8: Grading and Reporting Achievement

As a note, each chapter poses several questions. Please do not feel obligated to answer each question by number; rather, use them as a guide for you to respond to the reading and share your thinking about the ideas in the book.

1. When teachers believe that grading in a differentiated classroom is difficult, if not impossible, what are the issues and concerns fueling that belief?

2. The authors assert that the primary goal of grading and reporting is to communicate to important audiences, such as students and parents, high-quality feedback to support the learning process and to encourage learner success.

  • To what extent do present grading and reporting practices effectively communicate? To what extent are they accurate and fair?
  • In what ways do current grading practices achieve that goal for academically diverse student populations?
  • In what ways do current grading practices fall short of achieving that goal for academically diverse student populations? In other words, for whom do current grading practices “work” and for whom do they “not work”?

3. The chapter offers six principles of effective grading and reporting. Examine them individually and discuss which students might learn more effectively if the principle were reflected in grading and reporting procedures—and which students suffer when they are not. Be sure to take into account the impact of grading practices on student motivation.


4. In what ways might reporting three factors — student achievement of goals, progress toward those goals, and work habits in pursuit of those goals — improve student motivation? Student performance? Parent understanding of student work? Teacher satisfaction with reporting?


5. Review Figure 8.1. What big ideas unify Understanding by Design, Differentiation, and effective grading practice?

3 comments:

Chelsea said...

When teachers believe that grading in a differentiated classroom is difficult they may be anticipating parents’ reactions to a new system of grading or worried about how the current electronic grading system will allow them to implement the new idea, as well as administration expectations. They may also be afraid or apprehensive of the change themselves, used to doing it the “old” way for so many years, which was convenient and less time consuming.
Currently, I categorize my students’ scores into three weighted groups: application and/or conceptual understanding (40%), skills and/or content knowledge (40%), and academic work habits (20%). Almost all assessments have two scores, one for application and one for skills. However, a student’s grade is still communicated with one overall letter grade which is representative of the percentage. I use this system currently, because I have not seen or thought of an effective and efficient manner to communicate through scores. This makes it difficult to grade students who might be in an independent study or differentiated groups. This works for the majority of students the majority of the time, but those students who have assignments and assessments different from others in the classroom, are not being motivated by this system, which in turn affects their outlook on school.
Looking at the six principles the book presents, all students would benefit greatly from having these principles implemented into a school-wide grading system. When teachers agree on established criteria to attain a goal or standard, the students who would normally not give their best effort to an assignment, would understand what they needed to do to achieve a certain level of understanding. It becomes their choice, any question as to how show understanding or skill is eliminated. Not including all assignments and assessments in reporting grades allows the students who process slow and need repeated practice to feel confident they will attain the standards without feeling rushed and punished for not demonstrating early in a unit. Avoiding mean-based grades also alleviates the opportunity for students to figure out how they need to score on one assessment to “pull their grade up.”
If a teacher reports on the three factors presented in the book, students might become more motivated. They will realize they control their success and learning. The students will connect their actions and choices to the outcomes. Once they understand they are in control they feel empowered to accomplish more. Parents will see a difference in motivation, and teachers and administration will probably notice a decrease in discipline.
The biggest idea I noticed from reviewing Figure 8.1 in chapter eight is that everyone, not just teachers and administration, understands the goals and standards that need to be attained at each level of learning. Ambiguity disappears.

charley said...

Chelsea,

I sense that your reflection on your current system of grading for content is not satisfying to you and to some of your students. Goal setting seems to be the key for the student, while determining the standards of skill and understanding are the responsibility of the teacher. I am wondering if you could use a unit of instruction to try out your thinking?

K Blake said...

While I love the changes that I have made in grading over the past five years, I still struggle with one idea. I can readily speak to my parents about their child’s ability to memorize the content information, apply the information to critical thinking or real life situations, write for an informational purpose, and show responsibility. However, my grades do not reflect the students’ progress toward individual learning essentials because the overall grade is still lumped together into a single letter grade. In the end, this is a bigger fish than I can fry alone, so I will continue to look for ways to effectively communicate with students, parents and administration about the progress of my students while focusing on the learning essentials and critical thinking skills in my instruction.