Repair Kit: Fix 13 Summative Assessments Only in Final Grades

Fix 13: Don’t use information from formative assessments and practice to determine grades; use only summative evidence.

When I began reading this book I didn’t understand how you could calculate grades solely on summative assessments.  Now I’m thinking counting practice would be inaccurate as not every child gets the knowledge the first time; we need to allow them a second chance or third or fourth.  I think I would still track formative/practice/homework just to see how students are progressing and to compare to summative scores, but I would not count them in the final grade.

Small aside – The quote at the beginning of this chapter comes from a nearby school district.  I just thought that was kind of cool.

“It is important that teachers, students, and parents recognize that learning is a process in which learners increase their knowledge, understanding, and skills as a result of effort, instruction, feedback from teachers and peers, and self-assessment and adjustment.” (page 106)

This is the explanation we were given about our son’s standards based report card as to why he may have a 2 one quarter, 3 the next, and then back to a 2.  As additional instruction is taking place the level of knowledge being assessed is different therefore while he may have improved in second quarter maybe he’s struggling with the higher level in third quarter and so drops back to a 2.

Figure 5.1 lists three purposes of assessment, in short

Diagnostic – what is the child’s starting level

Formative – assessment for learning – provides direction for instruction

Summative – assessment of learning – used to see where a child is at the end of learning

“Feedback has to be descriptive not evaluative” (page 109)

This is what I have not done on a regular basis.  I need to make the 2 Likes and 1 Suggestion that I do and have my students do for each other a habit for myself and not just as a peer assessment on occasional assignments.  I wonder if it would be conflicting with the design of this fix to have a “format” feedback sheet.  If I could circle certain things like on a descriptive scoring guide and then add just a few sentences of tailored feedback it would be easier to do this for every student on multiple assignments/assessments.

“Careful consideration has to be given to the purpose(s) of homework.  Sometimes homework requires students to show what they know by extending or integrating their knowledge and understanding through projects or assignments done partially  or completely outside of the classroom.  This is clearly summative assessment  and is legitimately part of grades as long as there is careful monitoring to ensure that it is the student’s own work… Most often, however, homework is a practice of whatever was learned in class that day – any assessment of this work should be considered formative.” (page 109-110)

This makes sense!  I finally understand what they mean about not counting formative grades in final grades and better understand WHAT should be counted for final grades.

“It becomes an issue of compliance so it really doesn’t matter who does the work” (page 110)

Oh is this ever true, this would be why some teachers get homework turned in that is clearly the work of the student’s parents and not the student..

I’m paraphrasing sections from pages 111 and 112 here that really summarized this whole idea for me: homework is final grade is harmful for struggling kids who may avoid failure by not trying.  Students who ace tests don’t do homework because they don’t need to, they don’t need the practice and so they get lower grades that are an inaccurate representation of knowledge.  Using the mean to calculate rather than replacing scores or looking at more recent evidence of growth means that early low scores may mean final grades are inaccurate representations of student knowledge.  Teachers should create an assessment plan that begins determining the desired results/learning targets, writing a summative assessment to determine what students learned, then creating a diagnostic assessment to determine what knowledge students are starting the unit with, and finally determine what formative assessments will be used.  There should be a direct link between the formative and summative assessments.

“Once teachers have become clear about the appropriate uses for formative and summative assessment and abandoned the practice of including everything in grades, especially homework, it is acceptable to consider formative assessment evidence when determining grades.” (page 113)

OK again clearing things up for me.  I can still look to see if there are significant differences between homework scores and summative scores.

Student Involvement: Students have to be retrained to understand practice and performance and trained how to self-assess.

Teacher Vignette – “…students making a first attempt at practice new learning should be permitted to practice and take academic risks without having it cost them in the grade book.  We also emphasized that if everything counts, then the student’s focus would be on compliance (meeting the deadline) through any means possible, including cheating.” (page 116)

Wow is this an important statement to consider.  It really makes me think and it goes so well with fix 4.  Just another way to prevent cheating.

“The fear with implementing risk-free practice, of course, was ‘If I don’t grade it, they won’t do it.’” (page 116)

This is a very real fear for me, if students choose not to do the practice I won’t know if they need it.  I suppose that falls under behavioral consequences for incomplete work though, according to the vignette though “when practice is not counted in grades students complete the work more often, took more chances, and pushed themselves to learn.”  This gives me hope but I still think there would be a transition period.  Children would need to see that they do better on assessments when they do the practice and how do you explain that to parents.  Something to think about…

I may have to copy the guiding principles to help my set up my classroom policies and share with parents.


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