Thursday, June 11, 2015

End of Year Reflections Pt 1 GRADES

I still have almost a full two weeks left of school, but it is the end and as I said before IT came terrifyingly fast.

Tomorrow is the last day for accepting any graded assignments since final grade are due by Monday morning.
This year I wanted to change a lot about the way I graded.  I wanted to only give a grade on how much math the students learned, not participation, or behavior etc.   I made homework 5%, the benchmark exam 35% (this was because I wanted students to take the benchmarks seriously) and concept checks 60%.  My policy was that you could take the concept checks as many times as you needed to.  I thought this would be a wonderful option for my students who struggled and needed those extra chances and time to get it right.  You know who were the ones who really embraced this?  The students who got 90% or even 95% so that they could get the 100%
Still I didn't mind.  What I did mind was that those who really needed the help and the opportunity to retake never did until the end of the marking period or right before progress reports, of course.  The problem was, I didn't put a grade in until they passed which in our system means it looks like you have a really good grade and then boom you are down to a C or if you wait too long you could be at a D or even F!

So, for next year, I'm toying with the idea of setting up my grade book by standards and then assigning points you would have to earn towards that standard.  So for example in 5th grade the standard would be:
  • Recognize that the value of a digit changes by a factor of 10 when it moves by one place value, having a value 10 times greater when it moves left and 1/10 of the value when it moves to the right. Students do not need to extend this knowledge to moving multiple places values (e.g. knowing that moving a digit two places values to the left increases its value 100 times)
I would then make assignment and quizzes for this standard worth a certain number of points. Maybe practice being like 10 points and having 5 of them (homework/classwork) and then a quiz worth 50 points. Then as they are working each assignment will build towards their 100. So a kid who is getting it fast, blows through their 5 practice assignments for 50 points and then takes the quiz and gets 40 something and the grade shows 90+ but a student who needs more help might need 7 or 8 practice assignments and 2 or 3 quizzes to earn enough "points" to get a good grade in that standard.

I'm thinking this is a way to make standard based grading more aligned with the standard grade book.  One of my fears with doing something like this is that even the "smart" kids would have somewhat bad grades at first.  For example they've completed one assignment and got the full 10, when I enter the grade it will be a 10 out of 100 so an F!  I think though with a parent/student conference in the beginning of the year I could explain the method and hopefully get parental support. 

Another nice thing I could do is spiral in standards that we have already learned/practiced so that students would quiz each marking period on them as a part of their grade.  Maybe they just need 20 points on one quiz to show they retained the concept.  

I'm actually really excited about this idea.  It just came to me today and I'm thinking it might be brilliant!  LOL, I guess  you will have to stay tuned while I flush it out over the summer and then hopefully implement and blog about it next school year!


  1. I think this is a great idea! I want to pilot something like this for my two honors English classes next year to see how it goes. Keep us updated!
    Kovescence of the Mind

  2. Hi Sarah! Have you come up with any plans yet on how you will implement it in your classes? Over the next week or so I am going to focus on this since I'm not really sure how it will work!