The Assessment Network

Sharing assessment & grading strategies that help students learn

This Forum Discussion was started for Salem High School's Staff Development Faculty Meeting held on 9/23//09.

Throughout this school year we will be looking at 6 ideas about AFL that stood out after last year as areas for us to continue focusing upon during 2009-2010. Some of these 6 ideas were ones that we as a faculty most embraced. Others of them come from areas about which we had the most questions.

Today we will look at Idea # 1 from the list of 6.

Idea # 1 was:

Assessment and grading are not the same thing.

Try not to get into your mind that AFL means changing or altering the way you grade. AFL means assessing to help students learn. This can be done without grading. However, if you don’t grade well you can negate your AFL efforts.

As a group, watch the following video:



After you watch the video, discuss how the ideas in it relate to the classroom. Specifically, answer as a group the following questions:

1. How does the story in the video relate to the classroom?

2. Describe a time when your grading practices may have caused a student's grade to not reflect the fact that you had caused a student to learn? Or describe a time when this occurred in a class that you were in.

3. What do you do with your grading practices - or what could you do - to make sure that when you get a student to learn the student's grade reflects that learning?

4. How have you experimented with using assessments that give the student feedback but do not necessarily impact the grade or that do not cause the grade to be an inaccurate reflection of learning?


After your group discusses these questions, have at least one person per group type group answers as a reply to this forum.

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1. Ensure that grades reflect that learning was achieved by the student.
2. Too many daily grades that end up overwhelming the test grade that reflects the level of student learning
3. One of us will give students to retake quizzes and tests during remediation; allow for test corrections
4. Journals to show what students retained from reading assignments or what they have questions about; oral discussions; surveys of what students learned (or didn't)
1. Grades should reflect the final outcome not necessarily the bumps and bruises that occurred on the way to that final outcome.
2. Students who receive zero's on homework but do well on quizzes.
3. I give quizzes that lead up to a test. I allow retakes on quizzes and the test. The point value for the test is significantly greater than that of the quizzes.
4. A lot of papers that I assign reflect a students political opinion and they are graded more for completion than anything else.
1. The coach was giving the students grades to let them know what they needed to work on and what they were already doing well.

2. If you give them a zero for something that the student did not turn in, it doesn't reflect what they have learned - it only reflects a lack of effort on the student's part.

3. We think retest is a good idea. In addition, you can alter a student's previous grades that may have been lower if they show improvement later in the grading period. Teach for success; not failure.

4. We have allowed the students to practice. Some of us use checks, check minuses, etc. on assessments instead of numerical grades. These checks are just "mental notes" for us to keep up with whether or not a student is struggling with new material.

C. Scudder, R. Sell, M. Caudill, J. Martell, D. Wright, J. Shannon
1. I see differences in the video and classroom assessment. I agree that the best football player is going to start. But in a classroom, all the work of the grading period matters. If a student did no work until the end of the grading period, but then demonstrated mastery, I wouldn't give that student as high a grade as someone who did all the work and still demonstrated mastery. Work ethic matters.

2. Iff a student knows they can't pass a class, they will quit trying.

3. Make the end product count more. Make incremental steps count less. BUT -- some students do better on incremental steps and have trouble putting all together for a test. Keep the human touch. Note improvements. Not everything can be quantified.

4. Redo a quiz where the first grade doesn't count. Verbal feedback on projects and performances that aren't graded.
Practice that isn't graded.

4.
1. The end product (what they have learned) is more important than where they were earlier in the journey.

2. When a teacher weights grades, then this will cause a kid not to be able to reflect.

3. Be very careful on how you weight your assignments, and give them lots of opportunity for assessment and a variety of assessments.

4. do-nows, exit slips, anticipation guides, reflections, journals

By, Dawn Hartless, Debbie Stratton, Bev Allman, and Danyel Barnes :-)
1. Ultimately mastery is most important, not a bad beginning.

2. A new teacher is more susceptible to give grades for the sake of giving grades without looking at the final results of learning that took place.

3. Allow retakes on quizzes as mastery of learning occurs.

4. Do now's, checkups, exit slips.
1. We do take averages.
2. A student who earned A's for all 6 weeks of school, but had an "F" on the final exam, ended up with a "B" for the year. One test should not bring a student down since they could have had a bad or some reason for failing the exam.
3. Try to test or quiz more often or offer retakes if the student makes the effort to learn.
4. Grade daily assignments that do not count towards their final grade and just count the major projects or tests.
We have to be constantly evaluating our grading processes and be willing to get away from "what we've always" done, focusing on whether students are actually learning concepts. We also as a group discussed issues such as retaking quizzes, tests, etc. and how those grades should be factored into the final grade. We have experimented with different things such as peer teaching (asking a student to do a teaching demonstration of what you just taught) and anticipation guides (tapping into prior knowledge, giving direction for what we're learning, and then being able to reflect themselves on their own learning). :)
Things that came up in our group:

We should be telling the kids about AFL so that it is on their radar as well.

If students are allowed to retake after school, it is difficult for students to retake. How can we accommodate these students?

One idea is to section the tests and tell students if they do better on that section, they can up their quiz grade. This still puts the onus on the students to figure out AFL (if their grade should be improved on the quiz) but solves the problem of students having to come after school if some are not available.

Playing devil's advocate, what if you allow students to retake quizzes on Moodle and another student actually logs in and takes the test? No good answer. At some point, we need to trust students to do the right thing and if they do badly on the test, it will tell on them.
Ideally, every student in the classroom should have the opportuinty to practice and improve and be assesed before a final grad is given. Grading and learning are not the same, there have been times when too much weight was put on early test and quizzes.
1. Be careful not to get too caught up with a grading structure--allow room for improvement. You should weigh the end result more than the PRACTICE. At the same time, if the football player didn't practice and make the effort each day in practice, then he never would've received the chance to start. There needs to be some sort of motivation to practice. Flexibility in teaching is the best approach, grading shouldn't be finite.

2. Inappropriate weighting of grading,in regards to different categories, unrelated to the actual learning process and skill mastery (i.e. notebook checks). Also, maybe teachers should give students a penalty for late work instead of an automatic zero, as well as not offering extra credit for things that are unrelated to course content.

3. Use appropriate weighting of grades; balance categories to reflect students' knowledge.

4. Using class activities, games
1. What does the coach do to the player who has a great practice and then bombs in the game? Does he take him out of the game immediately? This is the student who does everything asked of him and then has severe test anxiety.
2. Most of the time up until last year when you got us to thinking about AFL.
3. Every AFL is not a grade, but every grade is and AFL.
4. Yes.

We were discussing too much to type.

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