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I find it interesting that I am described as being "particularly scathing" about the the use of A-F grades because what I have said many times is that the symbols are less important than what they mean. Scott, I agree that what you describe is a lot better than traditional grading because you have a profile of your daughter's achievement in French. My difficulty with what you describe is twofold; one, for three standards the grade is based on one score and because of luck, chance and measurement error no grade should ever be determined based on one score. At this point in the year all that should be reported is the score. Two, I have real difficulty with 85% being a C; where I have lived all my life in two different countries it would be an A so the issue is what does 85% mean? Is her writing proficient, better than proficient or not quite proficient? That is what your daughter and you need to know and 85% doesn't tell you that. 85% is highly proficient in free throws, unheard of in hitting in baseball and unacceptable for landing planes.

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Comment by Scott Habeeb on October 20, 2014 at 7:37am
Thanks for the input, Ken.

One thing I really like about what teachers like Paola are doing is that they aren't waiting for district policy or grade book structures to be perfect. Instead, they are making leadership decisions at the classroom level. I hope this example will encourage other teachers to play a leadership role in moving schools toward SBL practices.
Comment by Ken O'Connor on October 19, 2014 at 10:09pm

Thanks for giving me a clearer picture of the nature of the reporting. Achievement and progress are related but different. As I see it any report that has a grade is an achievement report NOT a progress reoport. A true progress report would have a different symbol system with different descriptors. Also PowerSchool can be set up to report levels not % and letter grades.

Comment by Scott Habeeb on October 17, 2014 at 12:53pm

For anyone else who might join this conversation, Ken is referring to the following blog post:

Comment by Scott Habeeb on October 17, 2014 at 12:52pm

Thanks, Ken, for taking the time to post a response.  Isn't it awesome that people are wrestling with these ideas instead of just accepting the status quo because it's comfortable?

If the progress report was any more than a report of progress, then I think I'd share your concern.  There won't be an official grade recorded in this class until the end of January.  Therefore, the teacher is just giving the student and the parent (me) a snapshot of current progress.  This wasn't even a required progress report but rather an extra step the teacher took on her own to make sure communication is clear.  The same information is available in PowerSchool's Parent Portal, but Mrs. Brinkley goes above and beyond to make sure all students and parents are receiving regular communication.

I must confess I don't read Spanish very well - or at all - but the handwritten note says something to the effect of "Kelsey - you are working well.  We are going to keep working on your writing."  In other words, this progress report is being used to help Kelsey know how the teacher is going to help her learn.

If this was a report card or a transcript it would be a different story.

That's interesting that other countries use different percentages.  In most American school systems an 85 is a B or a C.

Here's why numbers don't bother me too much - IN THIS CASE.  Teachers like Paola are only using them because it's the way PowerSchool is set up - but they aren't allowing them to drive their grade reporting.  By using a rubric approach - which the students understand - the teacher can then assign the letter grade represented by the student's mastery based on the rubric.  Right now, the way our division is set up, a number must go along with that.  But what's more important is the letter grade.  So a C (rather than an 85) would be more similar to a 2 on a 4,3,2,1 system.  The key, though, is that the number doesn't drive things - the letter based on a rubric does.

But in general, I'd gladly drop all the numerical reporting.  I'm with you there.

Great conversation.  Any other thoughts?

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