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What is the purpose of grading and the meaning behind grades?
The primary purpose of "grades" is to provide communication in summary format about student achievement of learning goals. The emphasis is on student learning, enhancing student academic achievement, and promoting academic rigor, not just accumulating points or "sorting" students. Standards-Based Grading uses assessments as sources of information, follows the assessments with corrective instruction, and gives students second chances to demonstrate their learning.
Three Underpinning Beliefs for the F.A.S.T. Grading System and the Key Guidelines for GradingBELIEF 1:Grading Is Not Essential for Teaching and LearningTeachers do not need grades to teach well, and students can and do learn without them. What is essential to learning is that students are provided with regular and specific feedback on what they have learned well, and what problems or difficulties they are experiencing.BELIEF 2:Grading Is ComplicatedTeachers must acknowledge that grading is a complicated process that requires careful thought and a lot of professional dialogue and collaboration. It is not just about "crunching numbers."BELIEF 3:Grading Is SubjectiveGrading of student learning is inherently subjective. This is because it involves so many choices by teachers, including what is assessed, what criteria and standards it is assessed against, and the extent to which students meet the standards. Teachers must not apologize for this subjectivity, but they must also ensure that it does not translate into bias because faulty grading damages students (and teachers). For example, a student who receives lower grades than she deserves might decide to give up on a certain subject or drop out of school, while a student who gets higher grades than he deserves might find himself in a learning situation where he cannot perform at the expected level of competence.
- Comparing the Traditional Grading System with the Key Guidelines of the F.A.S.T. Grading System
SystemThe system is based on assessment methods (quizzes, tests, homework, classroom participation, and so on).One grade is given for each subject.The system is based on learning goals (targets) and performance standards.One grade is given for each learning goal (target).Assessments are norm-referenced and based on a percentage system.Criteria are often unclear or assumed.Standards are criterion-referenced and proficiency-based (using a limited number of levels to assess performance on a scale).Criteria and targets are known to all.Use an uncertain mix of assessment of achievement, attitude, effort, and behavior.Use penalties and extra credit.Often includes "group scores".Measures only achievement.No penalties or bonuses are given.Includes individual evidence only.
Score everything - regardless of purpose.Use only summative assessments for grading purposes.Include every score, regardless of when it was collected. Assessments record the average - not the best - work.Emphasize the most recent evidence of learning when grading. Assessments vary in quality. Some evidence comes only from teacher recollection.Use only quality assessments, and carefully record data. The teacher makes decisions about grading and announces these decisions to students.Discuss all aspects of grading with students.
Grading is the on-going process of gathering mounting evidence of the depth of knowledge of a learner regarding the Learning Targets of the course and providing the learner feedback on their level to increase achievement and rigor. The emphasis of the F.A.S.T. Grading is on student learning and not "grades." Therefore, effective feedback on student learning can increase student achievement. After each "formal assessment", students receive a task analysis form to help them understand their levels of understanding and performance.
Grades are a snapshot of the learner's depth of knowledge of the core content and demonstration of the skills presented in the Learning Targets.
Practice (which many call "homework") helps students learn and increase the depth of their knowledge. There are three different types of Practice:
Preview Practice accesses prior knowledge, introduces a student to a Learning Target (core content or skill). This is checked but NOT part of the "grade" because it is assessment FOR learning. It is part of the student's Characteristics of a Successful Learner and Worker Mark.
Process Practice reinforces a skill or core content, usually formative. This is also checked but NOT part of the "grade" because it is also an assessment FOR learning. It is also part of the student's Characteristics of a Successful Learner and Worker Mark.
Product Practice provides evidence of the student's depth of knowledge or level of skill for a course Learning Target. Since these are evidence, it is an assessment OF learning and is part of the measurement of the student's understanding and skill.
- Student evidence is collected all the time, both informally and formally. Some of the ways evidence is collected include paper and pencil tests, short responses, essays, DBQs, presentations, student-teacher conferences.
- Students ALWAYS have the opportunity for Second Chance Learning to demonstrate an improvement in their understanding and use of their skills at any time. Click HERE for the Second Chance Learning Form.
- Second Chance Learning is a "growth mindset" not simply extra credit. Students demonstrate their growth or improvement in understanding or skills.
- Students meet with me to discuss which Learning Target they want to work on. We create a Second Chance Learning Plan which is signed by the student and parent.
- When the students have completed the plan and are ready to demonstrate the level of their understanding or skill, they are re-assessed.
- The re-assessment is placed on the HAC in the second column for the Learning Target. For Example:
- If Student Steve scores a Basic (raw score of 34) on the initial assessment, this is recorded in the first column for that Learning Target.
- When Student Steve completes his Second Chance Learning and demonstrates a Proficient level (raw score of 44), 10 points is added to the second column to show the improvement.
- The Characteristics of a Successful Learner and Worker provides feedback on the student's work habits, attitude, effort, and citizenship. This is NOT part of the student's "grade." I am developing a brief report to provide both the student and parent feedback on the following areas:
- a self-directed learner
- a quality producer
- a respectful citizen
- The "PERFORMANCE SCALE" for assessing Learning Targets, patterned after the language of the PSSA, is:
- ADVANCED - (90-100% accuracy) Evidence of a depth of knowledge that demonstrates mastery and that the learner has exceeded the standard.
- PROFICIENT - (70-89% accuracy). Evidence of a depth of knowledge that demonstrates the learner has achieved the standard.
- BELOW PROFICIENT - (Either Basic = 60-69% accuracy or Below Basic = Below 0-59% accuracy) Evidence of a depth of knowledge that demonstrates the learner has not yet achieved the standard or is approaching the standard.
Click here to download a copy of Mr. Simons's brochure for parentsClick here to read several excellent articles on Standards-Based Grading
- Converting the Levels of Performance on assessments to the TRADITIONAL GRADE SCALE depends on the Student Task.
Demonstrating Skills (50 point task)
ADVANCED LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 50 out of 50 points on the Learning Target evaluatedPROFICIENT LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 44 out of 50 points on the Learning Target evaluatedBASIC LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 34 out of 50 points on the Learning Target evaluatedBELOW BASIC LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 25 out of 50 points on the Learning Target evaluated
Mastering Content (25 point task)
ADVANCED LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 25 out of 25 points on the Learning Target evaluated
PROFICIENT LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 22 out of 25 points on the Learning Target evaluated
BASIC LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 17 out of 25 points on the Learning Target evaluated
BELOW BASIC LEVEL of Performance - Earns a raw score of 13 out of 25 points on the Learning Target evaluated
Rote Memorization (15 point task)
ADVANCED LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 15 out of 15 points on the Learning Target evaluated
PROFICIENT LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 13 out of 15 points on the Learning Target evaluated
BASIC LEVEL of Performance - Earns a score of 10 out of 15 points on the Learning Target evaluated
BELOW BASIC LEVEL of Performance - Earns a raw score of 8 out of 15 points on the Learning Target evaluated
"Seven Reasons for Standards-Based Grading"andand
- The HAC provides the students and parents/guardians feedback on the student's level of performance on the various Learning Targets assessed.
- Each Learning Target has TWO columns in the HAC.
- The FIRST column is the initial score recorded on the assessment.
- The SECOND column is the Second Chance Learning score. Students are ALWAYS able to review and demonstrate the depth of their understanding or skill level. The HAC categorizes this Second Chance Learning as "extra credit." There is no extra credit, this is how the program categorizes the growth/improvement. (For more information on Second Chance Learning, CLICK HERE.)
- This allows the student, teacher, and parent to see growth and improvement.
- The Levels of Performance on the Learning Targets are inputted into the HAC as follows:
- Demonstrating Skills task has a max value of 50 points.
- Mastering Content task has a max value of 25 points.
- Rote Memorization task has a max value of 15 points.
- The practice/homework is recorded on the HAC BUT it is provided as feedback on the students' work habits and checked for completion. Mathematically, it has little impact on the students' "grades" and is not considered a significant part of the students' performance.
- Practice done on time receives 1 point.
- Practice completed late receives .5 point.
- Practice NOT completed receives 0 points.