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O'Conner Keynote : Baker

Page history last edited by Debby Baker 11 years, 5 months ago

Use of Story--


Multiple grading issues:

  • Are grades about achievement, or do they tell "another" story
  • What do we use as evidence of that behavior and how is that calculated
  • Has the learning been supported

When thinking about the story...which category does it fit into


Lessons Learned:

Link assessment quality to criteria..is it clear? or is it hidden?

Establish clear purpose for any assignment-are you assessing the learning process or what's been learned


Nondiscussables-progress is made when these are discussed, but teachers need to be able to take risks. THey need to be able to engage in deep, open discussions rather than quickly in a parking lot. The health of an organization is directly related to the willingness of the system to address the nondiscussables.  Grading is a nondiscussable...2nd most private activity that teachers engage in.  Teachers are independent contractors when it comes to grading.

It needs to be a shared activity rather than a private one.


What role does "chance" have on a GPA?  Is it due to the combination of teachers rather than the courses being taken?


We equate fairness w/uniformity...all students get the same.  Fairness should be about equity of opportunity.  Explore your beliefs and practices around fairness and uniformity.

What are beliefs and practices around motivation?  Extrinsic motivation is limited in value.  Need to be developing systems that promote intrinsic motivation.  How do grades fit into this?  It's very complex BUT, single most important factor in motivation is SUCCESS.  We need to build opportunities for success into our practices.


Purpose of Grades

  • They should be communication vehicles which are communicating about student achievement
  • Purpose provides us with direction--school districts/systems need to have a dialogue and agreement on the purpose of grades
  • Teachers shouldn't have different primary purposes
  • It's a belief system


How confident are you that the grades you give are:

  • accurate--important decisions are made based upon grades.  we need to be confident that they are accurately reflecting learning.
  • consistent--shouldn't be a matter of chance.  If students are achieving at the same level, they should receive the same grade. Problem is that teachers have differing opinions about what a grade represents.
  • meaningful-provide us w/information about students achievement of learning goals
  • supportive of learning--we are engaged in a process of learning and grades should represent that process.  Traditionally, grades are based on a system of accumulating points rather than a reflection of the learning



Grades are broken if the above conditions don't exist.

To fix--needs to be a shared practice rather than independent



  1. Must have quality assessments and students need to be involved

Six Must-Haves if you're going to have effective grading

  1. Standards based--provide grades for those learning goals.  Limit use of single subject grades. Instead, evaluate by standard.  Gradebooks should be organized by the standards. Take grades based on standard areas and then summarize for each area at the end of the 10 weeks.  May want to emphasize the most recent performance.  Problem: if we need to summarize into a single grade (secondary issue)?  Focus shifts to the grade rather than the meaning/representation of the learning behind it. 
    1. Idea-do away with single subject grades except for 11th and 12th grade.
    2. One symbol cannot do justice to the different degrees of learning.
  2. Use clearly defined performance standards as the basis for the assessment which we have 1-7 levels..  Need to define the what and "who well"--(what does "good"  look like?)
    1. Need to embed these practices into school policies.
    2. A performance standard is a description of what it means to be proficient. You can't describe proficiency with a percentage based system.
  3. Separate achievement from behavior
    1. Behavior could be a reporting variable, not achievement variables
    2. "Penalties" don't motivate or change behaviors
    3. Can deal w/this via "warm demanders" (Bondy and Ross, The Teacher as a Warm Demander"): https://cl4l.sd33.bc.ca/downloads/files/Teacher%20as.pdf
      1. Ex-few days prior to due date--full court press
      2. Day after due:
        1. remove from extra-curricular
        2. ETC----The penalty for not doing work is doing the work
        3. Work with parents to establish clear partnerships
    4. Grade inflation through bonus points or extra credit--students should always be able to provide evidence that they are achieving at a higher level. It is not about the quantity of points, it is about what the evidence shows about the quality of achievement.   Bonus points--typically high level questions which should enable us to distinguish students who are thinking at that level. These types of questions should be part of the regular assessment.
    5. Academic Dishonesty--these are behaviors and should be handled through the Code of Conduct rather than through grading. The penalty should be "do it again"--teacher still needs the assessment evidence
    6. Use of absences-no place in determining grades (regardless of excused vs unexcused)  The issue is, were they there or not there...have they had enough opportunities to learn?
    7. Working in Groups-no student's grade should depend on the achievement/behavior of other students.  Grades should be based on the assessment (that follows the cooperative learning)
  4. Grades come from summative assessments    Grade performance, learn from practice which means comment on formative assessments, but don't grade it. 
    1. Use no more than 5, no less than 3 for any grading period. Limiting the number increases the probability that they will be high quality assessments.
    2. Think of athletics, everyone starts at 0 to 0. THe "grade" is on the performance
    3. There is an ongoing interplay between assessment and instruction
    4. Need to provide risk-free learning opportunities.  You can provide feedback, but don't assign a grade.
    5. Purposes of Homework:
      1. Preparation (used for diagnostic purposes)--introduces material
      2. Practice (use is for formative assessment)-to reinforce learning and help students master specific skills.  If we grade it, it's a compliance issue doesn't matter who did it...mom, dad, friend.  Practice should be about learning.
      3. Extension --students bringing together what they've learned via a project--ok for grading, but need to monitor it to make sure it's done by the students
      4. Integration
    6. Need to create an assessment plan for any unit of study.  Include summative and formative opportunities.
  5. Emphasis more recent learning rather than initial learning
    1. Need to embed multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning.  Need to guard against second chance assessments:
      1. Conditions-Must be evidence of correctives.  Student must have done something that increases their likelihood of success (i.e.more study)
      2. Opportunity costs--may have to redo during an inopportune time (i.e. recess, extra period)
  6. Number crunching- Don't use the mean to calculate a grade. Can be skewed by a low outlier.
    1. Effect of zeros- problems-
      1. Mathematical
      2. Giving a number (0) to something that doesn't exist
      3. Motivational problem-as soon as a student gets 2-3 zeros, he/she has no hope of success
      4. Best solution-allow for incompletes.  If student hasn't provided enough information about achievement, give INC.  If they have, calculate their grades based on what you have.


Fixes--see notes/book

Grades should come from a body of evidence (that it's the students responsibility to produce), performance standards, and school/district guidelines.  (Evidence + professional judgement)


Need to be developing enduring understandings:

  1. There are no right grades, only justifiable grades
  2. Nothing really changes until the grade book and report cards both change





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