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. It reminds us to focus on the bigger picture. The ultimate outcome is to show learning. It also shows differences in learning. The coach was giving specific feedback to both players. One seemed to take it to heart and really improved. The other seemed to maintain the "B" level. The same thing happens in the classroom.

2. I assigned too much weight to daily practices instead of focusing on the bigger projects, assignments, etc. You have to strike balance of the grade meaning something without affecting the grades too negatively.

3. You give more weight to the final, cumulative assessment.

4. The use of extra credit with assessments.

(We were still in the process of discussing questions 3 and 4.)
One of the things brought up at our table is that if we grade students based on their performance on the "big" final assessment (i.e., test) and not "count" poorer grades on earlier, smaller assessments, then we do not hold them responsible for studying for those quizzes and completing their homework with some degree of quality. They need to be accountable for the process and progression of learning, not feeling that they can blow off quizzes and still come out with a good grade if they pull it together for the test.
Team Members: Jamie Garst, Jason Sells, Debbie Carter, Katie Reid.

1. The story of the football players is similar to a classroom by the way we asses students and help them progress through out the year (or season). We continue to grade them and from the homework, projects, quizzes and tests the students improve on mastering the material in a classroom. It's very similar on the football field. The drills that players go through are assesments and throughout the year they should improve on them either by quickness, effiiciency, and strenght.

2. A student doesn't do the homework or class assignments but makes A's on a test. From that the student got a B in the class. How do we assess that student's progress since the student is refusing to do the work. Another thing is grading homework. If a student doesn't do the homework but then knows the material from going over the homework and listening to the answers in class.

3. Assess in different ways and at different times. For example after a test if a student did badly but yet you ask some of the same questions on the next test and the student does well. Then you can go back and grade on their improvement of the material.

4. Yes, practice quizzes and Do Now Reviews for quizzes. After they finish the assignment, I go over the answers and then they can see what they are struggline with and know what to improve on. Also I constantly remind and go over previous material throughout the year to make sure they still know what they have learned.
1. Grades should reflect progress and gradual improvement
2. Graduate classes based on group work do not always reflect learning and progress
3. Practical applications in science are an excellent method of measuring learning
4.Allowed time for questioning as students work on activities as well as rough drafts when working with lab write=ups
5.
1. Students who start out not being successful then learn tools to help them learn and start to maste the subject is represented by the running back.
2. Not given the proper point value to test.
3. Look at the over learning process and how the assignments are weighed.
4. Checking for understanding in a way that no grade is given or few points are given so that it doesn't have a hugh effect on their grade .
1) We see similar situations occur in our classrooms, and we can see things from the coach's perspective. We think maybe the coach let Mark start due to the fact that he had more game experience! However, we realize that it is important not to keep students from "starting" just because they had a rough start.

2) Some of us have let a student's grade suffer because of one poor quiz grade. Maybe that quiz grade should have been thrown out or counted less.

3) It is helpful to assess students multiple times on the same concepts. This way, you have a chance to see growth/learning!

4) We use rough drafts that are commented on and peer-evaluated (students working together before the final project/draft) instead of graded. We use check-ups, too!
First, I had to get past the fact that the pathetic player who could didn't know enough to improve was named Mark, but the player who was "all-world" and rushed for 285 yards in a half was Scott. At least the coach had the good sense to start Mark in the end. Just Kidding.

This makes me reflect on a few points:
1. How do my quizzes and homework assignments "push" my grades? Do they punish a student that shows improvement? Each daily quiz question counts 3 points, but I make my test questions count 5 points (generally). Is this sufficient in balancing out a student's grade? Homework (especially if a student still was successful even if they didn't do it) seems like a real drag, yet, research tends to show that homework can enhance learning.

2. One issue I'm wrapping my hands around and I would like others thoughts: Football isn't exactly like mastering Earth Science or World History. A student isn't likely to forget how to make a cut or follow a blocker, especially when a play is practiced over and over again. However, in a subject like World History, there is copius amounts of content. If I have a student who ACES all the quizzes, plus the test compared to a student who does poorly on multiple quizzes, but then studies (crams?) for the test and improves, how does that factor into the grade? Which student is MORE likely to remember the content come SOL test/final exam time? What practices do we need to have to test that the content is remembered long term? Isn't that the goal ultimately?

3. That said, I've given transfer students who came at semester an A for the year because they had straight A's for me. What do I care to average some other teacher's grades when all I've seen is excellence? Should this affect how I view others and their grades?
The clip was thought provoking and the subsequent dialogue has been terrific, so rather than comment on the matter at hand, I choose to make an observation about the process…this is amazing! This is incredibly refreshing! This is an example of what learning organizations should be doing with greater frequency and focus!

Consider how this parallels what we expect from the medical profession with regard to the use of case studies. We expect that the people charged with our health care collaboratively consider and reflect upon a mix of scenarios and actual cases for the purpose of refining practice and improving patient outcomes.

While I agree that reducing the mortality rate from a surgical procedure is more important than improving grading practices, I suggest that the difference is not large as one may initially assume. Physicians strive to extend life and improve quality of life for the patient. We are in the business of equipping young people to have more life opportunities, more earning potential, better inter-personal skills, etc. and by so doing we impact their quality of life and the lives of the families and children many of them will have one day.

Considering that our practices have the potential of impacting generations, let us all resolve to be more reflective, collaborative, purposeful, and relentless in improving learning outcomes for our students. Opportunities like this should be the norm not the exception.

Keep it going SHS!

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