Repair Kit for Grading: Study Guide

I mentioned in my Why Blog post that the idea for this blog came from reading the book Repair Kit for Grading and going through the pre-assessments in the study guide.  Today I’m going to start the posts fro the study guide.

As my notes for this activity in the study guide are at 11 pages and counting this will be broken into several parts.  The purpose given for this activity is to think about and record one’s current grading practices for later comparison purposes.  I assume this means that at the end of reading the book I will go back and look at the assessments again to see how my feelings and opinions on grading have changed.

 Activity 1.1 starts with Appendix B the rubric for evaluating grading practices asking: where am I now? (Now when I did this pre-assessment I actually did Appendix C first because B just did not want to print correctly, but I’ll post them in the proper order). It is broken down into a number or criterion and you are to pick where you are on the scale beginning, developing or fluent.  I will put the criterion descriptors in italics and then my responses will be back in normal print.

 Criterion 1: Organizing the grade book.  Beginning seems to be where I am according to the descriptor provided.  The evidence of learning (e.g., a grade book) is entirely organized by sources of information (e.g., tests, quizzes, homework, labs, etc.). The other descriptors include using specific content standards in the grade book, something I have never done.  I have included content standards in lesson plans and even on end of unit assessments, usually leading students to ask me what all those strange numbers and letters are but I have not ever used them in my grade book.  I’ve never even thought of using them in my grade book, however now that I think about it, it seems like a great way to really see how students are progressing.  This might take a different grade book than the standard though, and electronic grade book that would allow me to sort scores by type, by standard, chronologically, etc.

 Criterion 2: Including factors in the grade.  This section is broken down into four descriptors.  The first I fall in the beginning category again: 2. 1 Overall summary grades are based on a mix of achievement and non-achievement factors (e.g., timeliness of work, attitude, effort, cheating).  Non-achievement factors have a major impact on grades.  Now to be clear I don’t include effort or attitude in my overall grades, however I have by personal policy deducted points for late work and by district policy given zeroes for cheating.

 2.2 This descriptor is about extra credit work being counted in final grades.  I rarely if ever gave extra credit assignments which means I fall nowhere on this scale, not sure if this is a good or bad thing though.

 2.3 Finally in the developing category instead of the beginning: Cheating, late work, and missing work result in a zero (or a radically lower score) in the grade book.  But there is an opportunity to make up work and replace the zero or raise the lower score.  While by district/school policy cheating has as far as I can recall always led to a zero with no chance for make-up, late work is counted at 10% off, and missing work is allowed to be made up again for up to 10% off.  I would go into detail about my feelings on this but I know I did so thoroughly while taking the appendix C pre-assessment so have no fear I will share my thoughts on consequences for late work.

 2.4 This descriptor is about borderline grades and how they are handled.  As I have always used a set grading scale from the school/district I have never worried about borderline grades, they are what they are.  They round up or down according to standard rules of rounding.

 Criterion 3: Considering assessment purpose. Ah here I am back in the beginning category again with the descriptor: Everything each student does is given a score and every score goes into the final grade.  There is no distinction between scores on practice work (formative assessment or many types of homework) and scores on work to demonstrate level of achievement (summative assessment).  I’m not sure I have a problem with being in the beginning category here as the fluent descriptor includes the sentence: Grades are based only on summative assessments.  In other words grades are based only on test scores?  Um ok problem!  What about kids with test anxiety whose test scores don’t accurately reflect their learning?  Again something know I went into more detail on in appendix C, so I’ll stop for now.

 There are four additional criterion subdivided into ten descriptors so I’m going to stop with these for today.  And leave you with a few questions.  Parents how do you feel?  How do you want your child’s final grade to be calculated?  Teachers how do you organize your grade book?  Do you give zeroes for cheating?  Are you in a ZAP (zeros aren’t permitted) building?  I’d love to hear others thoughts and opinions.

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