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Sharing assessment & grading strategies that help students learn

SHS Staff Development - 9/3/09 - The relationship between assessment and grading

This Forum Discussion was started for Salem High School's September 3, 2009 inservice on AFL.

Last year our school spent an entire year looking at AFL, at what it means, at how it can be applied to our classrooms, and at what impact it will have on our teaching and grading practices. At the end of the year there were 6 main ideas that stood out 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.

For our inservice time on September 3, the SHS faculty has been divided into small groups. Each group will discuss Idea # 1 from the list of 6. Then each group needs to reply to this discussion and share a synopisis of what was talked about in the group.

What thoughts did you have that would be worth sharing with the rest of the faculty? Have you learned something about this idea or applied it in some way in your classroom? Do you have plans for implementing this idea into your classroom practices this coming year?

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.

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Assessment is a way for the teacher to see where his or her students are in their understanding. Preferably, you assess a class several times before you grade anything. This can be anything from asking directed questions, walking around the room as students try a problem, or taking up an exit slip. Before giving a test or quiz, a teacher should be reasonably sure that students will succeed.
We talked about verbal assessment: when we notice problems, we intercede with one-on-one discussion to try to determine where the problems lie.

We talked about assigning fewer points for the initial (writing) assignment, and allowing students to earn more points as the the year proceeds and they can demonstrate skill mastery. So, I guess it's a question of weighing grades...to the point that I am going to count the summer reading journals for IB English as worth very few points...as a means of assessing skill level and working from there with students.
Grading should be used as an assessment after the "learning" has occurred. Assessment for learning should be used to determine how well students are learning along the way. Student and teacher benefit from the process. Teacher and student would assess the learning, but not necessarily as a grade or not one of great weight. The old KWL chart - what do you know, what do you want to learn and what did you learn.
Assessment should include giving students feedback with or without a grade. Assessment means finding out what a student does or does not know. It does not necessarily mean giving a value to what they do or do not know.
Allie Horan, Emily Herndon, Alisa Burns, Mark Ingerson, Jason Sells

-You can assess students without giving a grade (whole-class questioning, exit ticket, check-ups).
-AFL is as much for the student as it is for the teacher.
-The idea of a pre-test, post-test could change perspective on grades.
-Our group understands the difference between AFL and grading practices, but we also agree that a teacher who is devoted to AFL practices will naturally begin to reevaluate grading practices!
Assessment for learning is the means to the end. It is different than grading. It is accomplished through various strategies to get an accurate picture of the complete student. It is a means to find out what students know and are able to do, so teachers can provide appropriate and differentiated instruction or remediation to eventually evaluate their level of understanding and skill.
Assessment is retrieving feedback to get an idea of where students are in their learning process.....assessment is checking for learning---grading is the measurement of learning.
Hilda, Bev and Debbie
I agree!
I agree that they aren't the same thing. I frequently assess what is working or isn't working in acting. We'll work on improving a scene, but I rarely grade the change.
As we begin this school year, our focus turns to effectively implementing the pre-assessment component of the Assessment For Learning process. Each assessment will provide powerful insight as to where each student's journey begins and will be used as a tool for providing effective feedback, not as an opportunity for providing another grade in the grade book. AFL reinforces the belief that our goal is not the quantity of grades needed during a six weeks grading period but on the quality of those grades that reflect where students are at the end of the learning process, not throughout it.

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