Repair Kit Fix 7: gradebook organization

Fix 7: Don’t organize information in grading records by assessment methods or simply summarize into a single grade; organize and report evidence by standards/learning evidence.

Initial thoughts:

I think a combination needs to be used.  I still want to know how my students perform on certain types of assignments.  We’re supposed to differentiate right?  Knowing strengths and weaknesses of students by not just standard but types of work/assessments would be valuable knowledge.  Some students perform better on oral exams/presentations while others do better with written , some with creative tasks and others with highly structured tasks, all of this could be identified if we can use software (as most gradebooks are now) that allows for sorting various ways for reports.

What I’m getting from the first paragraph is that while a single grade may be required, evidence on student level of mastery by standard should also be presented to parents.  From viewing my son’s report card this year (3rd grade) I’d say our district is on its way to accomplishing this but I’d like to see if the middle and high school report cards have just letter grades or also have standard breakdowns.

“Schools focused on standards only for curriculum, instruction, and assessment are standards referenced not standards based.” (page 59)

So I’m guessing that standards based means curriculum, instruction, assessment, and grades?

“To be standards based grading, teachers plan each assessment to provide direct evidence by goal, dedicating columns or blocks of space in their gradebook to each learning goal.” (page 59)

First thought is I need a new gradebook, a whole new type of gradebook.  Two paragraphs on this page and I think I reread them 4 or 5 times until I felt I was grasping the concept, this sentence above stuck out to me.  So basically instead of one grade on an exam students would receive 1, 2, or maybe 3 scores on an exam depending on the number of learning goals addressed with the grades separated by goal. In other words an exam may appear in more than one section of the gradebook.

This reminds me of going through the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) data that was released to schools had scores for each item by Grade Level Expectations or GLEs.  It was easier to assess the data that way to look at the standards we struggled with.  I could then look back at previous years data by class or grade level to see what the changes were on those standards.  I can see how this would be valuable in a gradebook but setting it up I think would be the most difficult part.

“Often at the middle and high school levels, where teachers interact with large numbers of students, teachers feel/believe that recording data at the learning goal level is impractical.” (page 60)

Um yeah!  When you have 100 or more students scoring by each individual goal would take more time than teachers even have, even if they never slept I don’t think they’d get it done.

Page 61 shows an example of the ideal gradebook for this fix.  One page for each student.  Now if you have an elementary class maybe this would work though one page per subject for each student could still add up to a 100 page gradebook per quarter not anymore practical than one page per student for middle or high schoolers though possibly worth the time.

I like the specific suggestions made here especially having at least five scores per strand by the end of the grading period.  Scoring like this would definitely have me talking a second look at my curriculum map to make sure I have standards listed and not try to cover too many standards per grading cycles.

Ah much better page 63 shows a gradebook example I think I could actually implement: all student in class on one page, across the top separated into strands, each strand separated into formative and summative though I wonder how I’d get 5 summative assessments in each strand, maybe I’ll find out in fix 13.

I don’t assign grades for my class but I do have a set of standards.  I’m thinking about creating a sample gradebook for just one grade with these standards to try out this concept.  Of course I also address the Common Core Standards when I do lessons but as those aren’t my primary concern I think I’ll leave them out for now.  I might even try individual standards pages for my fourth or fifth grades because I have fewer students in those groups.

“There may be a lot of work involved at first to get organized to record scores  and determine grades in this way.” (page 64)

This is why I think I want to try this out now to get some ideas of how to make this work.  I would imagine most districts would have a committee or someone in curriculum develop a gradebook for teachers to use, or at least a sample gradebook for teachers to see.

NOTE: I originally wrote these notes several weeks ago when I read this chapter.  I am still working on trying to create a standards based gradebook.  When I get it figured out that may become a post of it’s own, we’ll see.




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