Ken O'Connor

Ken O'Connors Sides - Keynote - O'Connor.pdf


Grading Issues:





     Learning (support)


Which category of issues does your grading story fit into?


     Story 1:  Student gets a B first semester with little interaction with teacher.  An A second semester when she interacts with teacher.

          Quality of the evidence (assessment) - Teacher does not share the criteria with the students.

     Story 2: 

          Lack of support of the learning process

     Story 3:  Student does well on tests does not do homework.  Student chooses not to do HW because

          Learning process 



Read Roland Barth's Lessons Learned.  Rule 6:  When discuss nondiscussables, change has an opportunity to occur.  (The gist of the idea.)


Teachers should not be independent contractors in a standards-based system.  The givens of grading in standards based systems:  quality assessment & student involvement.  The musts:

     focus on standards  - (Side 22) 

     performance standards - no%  (Summarize with the most consistent level for a given standard of achievement or look for central tendency)

          The tension comes when you have to summarize the standards for grades at the high school level.

          Take a look at the levels and defined by the IB and the AP.

     achievement separated from behaviors (Side 33)

          Report card needs to report on the behaviors that are not included in the grade (Example of a report card Side 34)

     summative only

     more recent emphasized

     no number crunching



What role does chance play in grading?  The chance of the combination of teachers you get, the chance of the types of courses you take.


What are our beliefs around fairness? 


We need to figure out how grading supports intrinsic motivation.  One of the most important factors in creating motivation is success.  We need to create a system which allows for small successes for all students.


When you are working on grading in your system, you need to begin with defining your purpose.  What is the purpose for your grades?  You also need to consider the different the expectations of different stakeholders and communicate with them if you have changing the students.


Grades need to meet the following condidtions:

     accuracy - What are the conditions that make them accurate?

     consistent across courses, grades (at elementary school) - It shouldn't be a matter of what class students are taking.

     meaningful - have substance behind them

     supportive of learning  - They need to be illustrative of a process of learning.  Are the grades more than just a collection of  points of representative of the learning.


Grading Issues:


Issues that deflate grades:


Dealing with due dates - Slide 37  - Alternatives to penalizing students with lower grades for late work.  Need to provide support, learning skills, communication, consequences.


Issues that inflate grades inappropriately - Extra credit that has nothing that relates to grades.  Bonus points on test mathematically interfere with grades.  The questions asked are usually are higher order questions that should be used to determine level of understanding on the test.


Academic dishonesty:  If a student is dishonest, don't give them a 0.  make them do it again.  You need to know their level of achievement (Slide 42??)


Keep absenses out of it.  Report it separately.  It is not about achievement.


Formative assessments/HW should not be counted in grades. Example:  Summative assessments no more than five, no less than three in a semester. (Slide 49)

Homework should be about prep, practice, extension, integration.   HW becomes about compliance - it doesn't matter who does it.  If it's about learning only the student should do it.  If it's extension or integration and we are grading it, we need to be certain about how they do it.


Sample of how to track formative assessment (Slide 52) in an AP Language Class.


Role of descriptive feedback - Almeida, L, in Reeves, D.  Ahead of the Curve - Solution Tree


Second Chance Assessments need conditions:  Students always need evidence of doing something that is going to increase the likelihood of their success.  Example:  Failing the test the first time and passing the second.  Person worked hard to correct parking and passed.  What goes on the liscense is that you passed.    A second optional cost is to have students take the test at a time where they have to come in and do it on their own time.


Do not use the mean to determing grades.  (Slide 61)  The problem of zeros.  How can you give a value to something that doesn't exist?   As soon as a student has two or three O's student loses all motivation.  Alternatives (Slide 62)  The best alternative is an incomplete because they have not given sufficient evidence.  It is accurate and puts the ownis on the students. 


This all are linked to the fifteen fixes for Grades the book that O'Connor wrote.




EU's of grading


1.  No right grades just justified.

2.  Nothing really changes until the grade book changes.  We need to have aligned practices throughout the process.













Resources mentioned:


Ruth Sutton - Formative Assessment resource

Teachers As Warm Demanders - Ed Leadership, September 2008