Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Standards-Based Gradebook Setup

As I posted last week, I'll be trying a standards-based grading system this year via Active Grade.  Getting started was not as hard as I fear it would be.  It was easy to load in the students and the standards.  Then I hit the first wall:  how will each standard be assessed?  What does mastery look like?  Will I use a different rubric for different standards?  Will I use a 4-point scale?  Will I count zeros or not?   Here's where I landed:  keep it simple...

As hard as those decisions were, things got worse...

How will each standard's scores be turned into a grade?  What is my philosophy about mastery levels--once a student has mastered a skill, does that wipe away previous attempts that did not result in mastery?  Will kids benefit more from a decaying average, a high score replacing all, or some other iteration?  

All of this grade calculation seems to detract from the whole goal of SBG--that students know how they are doing skill by skill.  Forcing their progress into a traditional letter grade feels, well, forced.  For now, I've decided that the best system to go with is that each standard's overall score will be determined by the maximum of a student's "Most Recent" and "Average" methods.  This seems to be the most humane method of awarding a grade to a standard, but I'll have to see how it goes once I enter some grades.

If all of that wasn't hard enough to work through, I had to face the hardest question:  what will it take for my students to earn an A, a B, a C, a D for a marking period?  My patient, intelligent mathematician husband (are you reading this, Marc?) spent nearly an hour with me trying to figure out how to take 40 standards and roll them into one quarterly grade.  After quite a few attempts, we settled on this breakdown:

I have no idea if I'm setting my students up for failure or success.  But at least I'm set up!  And that means I can create my first assessment and put this SYSTEM to the test.

Stay tuned...

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