Rethinking Grading: Ch. 5

Chapter 5: How to Reform Grading: Making Change Happen
Cathy Vatterott

Changes need not be grandiose to have a huge effect on student learning or to improve the accuracy and validity of student grades.

We must decide what we believe about the purpose of grading.

If they believe the purpose of grading is to accurately reflect achievement, then it becomes inconsistent to punish behaviors such as cheating, tardiness, or attendance with grades.

If an individual teacher believes the purpose of grading is to reflect academic achievement only, they could begin by removing nonacademic behaviors from the grade, by no longer grading practice work, and by giving more ungraded formative feedback.

When we agree on purpose, methods follow purpose.

Lesson learned:
One. Start small.
Two. Let it grow.
"Teachers need time to grieve the loss of what they thought was right."
Three. Include all stakeholders.
Four. Create a belief statement or guiding principles.
five. Have a comprehensive communication plan.
Six. Make students and teachers your allies.

When implementation is top-down with no teacher by-in, there's often a limited understanding of the changes and no commitment to the mission. Teachers notoriously find ways around policies they had nothing to do with creating.


Rethinking Grading: Ch. 4

Chapter 4: What, How, and When to Grade
Cathy Vatterott

Pre-tests set the stage, shave instruction for all, and guide individual learning. After the pre--testing process, formative assessment provides feedback to students while they are still learning; summative assessment shows the level of mastery at the end of the learning cycle.

Most teachers of you and formal feedback and formative assessment as two different things. It's easier to think of formative assessment as structured tasks designed by the teacher, results of which may be marked or documented in some fashion, so students and parents can have a record of the students progress toward the learning targets.

Feedback is a two-way recurring conversation between teacher and student.

For teachers to be able to give feedback to students, it is necessary to limit direct instruction enter create activity-based lessons.

All feedback does not have to come from the teacher; peer feedback can also be useful.

As we get targeted feedback to individual student and as they are empowered to learn in their own way, the differences in learners become smaller.

If, after repeated attempts, a student or group of students has failed to master a learning target we must take a fearless inventory of our instructional process and ask yourself these questions;
What's their level of learning properly diagnosed with pretesting?
What's the feedback about learning timely specific and helpful?
Did our differentiation move the student or group of students forward?

Using the result of a pre-test, feedback, or formative or summative assessment, teachers can identify patterns in the students work or clusters of student need. Students can then be organized into two or more groups for ungraded group learning the activities at each table are based on the errors that students made on the form of assessment.

In a purely standards-based grading system, only summative assessment counts in the final grade.

Typically formative assessments are evaluated and descriptive feedback is given to the learner, such as with practice tests.

Ungraded practice tests are especially beneficial to learn as they Activate "retrieval learning" and strengthen the connections in the brain.

One technique for practice test is called "find it and fix it." Rather than marking the answers that are incorrect, the teacher notes to the student, "five of these are incorrect; find them and fix them". This requires a student to reengage with the questions and precipitates a lot of learning.

Mastery checks: these assessments are written using three levels: green, yellow, and red. The green level questions are basic skill problems and didn't really require only one or two steps to solve. Yellow level questions require multiple steps and or multiple ideas to solve. The red level questions are generally questions of the students have never seen before, requiring them to go beyond knowledge they have obtained and\or apply the knowledge to a new situation. Students are expected to attend all three levels of questions. Their answers help the teacher to determine the students his level of mastery.

The current consensus is that homework should be formative assessment the checks for understanding or that helps prepare students for summative assessments. Therefore, and I truly standards-based system, homework should not be graded. Standards-based policies usually state that homework will be reviewed and feedback will be given, but not counted in the grade.

The final achievement of learning is more important than the steps it took to get there.

Formative assessment is assessment for learning and occurs when there is still time to improve. Summative assessments are assessment of learning that occur the end of a predetermined learning cycle, after learning has taken place.

How in assessment is used is what determines whether it is formative or summative.

Students who eventually achieve mastery should not be penalized for earlier struggles.

The most recent evidence of learning is the most accurate and grades should be replaced by the most recent evidence.

Student should never be allowed to retest without showing additional evidence that they have mastered the concept that caused him to do poorly on the original assessment.

Remember that our goal is to minimize the number of retakes a student needs to show mastery.

We want to hoops to result in additional learning, not just for students to complete missing work.

Feedback is free help-there is no grade or Mark associated with feedback.

Formative assessments give students multiple opportunities to improve, free from the threat of grades while they are still learning, and summative assessments verify and report their learning progress.


Rethinking Grading: Ch. 3

Chapter 3: What Grading Looks Like in the Standards-Based Classroom
Cathy Vatterott

The standard show us the results that we want students to achieve. We then work backwards from those results to create more specific learning targets. We synthesize or unpack the standards into learning targets, usually written as "I can" or "We can" statements.

But when we organize individual targets into lesson-sized tasks, keeps them separately, and assess them separately, students may fail to see the relevance and connection. A better method is to group targets together so that several targets may be addressed by the same activity.

Self assessment is formative assessment-it should always focus on improving the students progress toward the learning target, not I'm getting a better grade.

Learning is not so much instruction or a lesson to be taught, as an activity to be experienced.

I never heard of a student not doing *his* work; it's *our* work he's not doing.

If we want to encourage students to view mistakes as a necessary step in learning, we need to remove the threat of grading while they are learning.

Grades are not necessary for learning, but feedback is. In fact, feedback has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies to improve learning.


Rethinking Grading: Ch. 2

Chapter 2: Why We Need a New Grading Paradigm
Cathy Vatterott

Treating all students the same resulted in a certain percentage of students who failed.

Instead of teach, test, and MoveOn and one large group, learning is a series of mastery's for individual students-teach, check for understanding, apply learning, get feedback, revise learning, and get more feedback until mastery is achieved.

Unlike the old paradigm of one-shot learning, a feedback loop exist that makes learning dynamic-feedback to the students informed their learning and teachers change instruction as they see what individual students need.

Within the traditional grading paradigm, it's not safe to make mistakes. In a traditional paradigm, failure is a judgment and a validation of her students lack of ability.

Learning is hard and frustrating, but ultimately achievable and satisfying. Mistakes are a natural part of learning and mistakes or something you do, not something you are. Lack of understanding is a puzzle to be solved-not a validation of stupidity.

As grades are used to punish behaviors, they overshadow the grades students receive for learning.

In the traditional grading paradigm, when teachers grade everything, the grade means nothing.

When first attempts, including practice, are graded and went all grades are permanent, students are penalized while they are still learning. Mistakes are permanently recorded and there is no redemption.

If you have a bad week practicing, you don't show up on Friday night with -5 on the scoreboard. The only way to win the game is to get better at the learning.


Rethinking Grading: Ch. 1

Chapter 1: The Culture of Grading
Cathy Vatterott

But teachers intervene-they teach with the goal of having all students learn. "If the distribution of student learning after teaching resembles a normal bell-shaped curve, that, too, shows the degree to which our intervention failed. It made no difference."

Belief #1: Good Teachers Give Bad Grades
As teachers, we bought into the idea that a bell curve indicated rigor and misinterpreted it to be a rule to follow. We came to believe that of success were scarce and great spell into a bell curve then we were tough teachers.

Grade inflation is the arrive from the belief that rigor equals a scarcity of high grades and that the purpose of grading is to sort and rank.

Rigor and difficulty was often equated to the amount of work done by students rather than the complexity and challenge of the work.

Such practices reinforce the belief that some students could not learn and perpetuated a system that not only allowed four but actually expected failure. In many ways, sorting and ranking practices institutionalized failure and conveniently of dissolved teachers of the responsibility for student failure.

Belief #2: Not Everyone Deserves an A

Many people feel strongly that grades reflect more than learning. We review grades as a package deal; to succeed, seras must have it all-academic achievement and moral virtues.

Belief #3: Grades Motivate Learners

The first misconception is that learning is only a means to an end-to escape punishment or get a reward, the learning has no intrinsic value, and that students would not be interested in learning for its own sake.

The second misconception is that a single entity called motivation exists, the students either have it or don't have it, and it can be manipulated by external forces.

The third misconception is that the most effective method is the use of rewards and or punishment and that grades are in effect the reward and or punishment for all students.

Our believes have led to an abuse of grades.

Students have come to believe that effort however week, not learning, earns them the A.

And our relentless pursuit of the almighty A and the perfect GPA, something got lost-learning.

Reality Check #1: NCLB

This was a foreign concept to teachers-we had never been expected to ensure that all students were proficient. We didn't know how to do that. We were not even sure that it was possible.

NCL be exposed a dirty little secret-graves don't equate with performance on standardized test.

Accountability for learning demands grades that are reflective of learning.

Reality Check #2: Grades Are Misleading About Succeeding

A puzzling example is that good grades in high school and students cheaper car insurance. Why-because good students are safer drivers or because good grades mean you are an accomplished rule-follower who will follow the rules of the road?

We thought that we were rewarding the right thing-completion of tasks, compliance, promptness. But in that process if we devalued mastery of deep conceptual learning, we have hampered students his future success. Maybe the grading practices that we thought were preparing students for the future really weren't.

Reality Check #3: The Common Core State Standards Changed Everything

Although standards and standardized test has supposedly driven instruction for years, we now see that we have been focusing too much on low-level rote learning.

Too often, we have neither allowed nor expected students to think. We have filled her head with facts and formulas and reward them for restarting it. We have done the analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating instead of expecting our students to do it. We have done too much of the work of learning, perhaps because we didn't trust him to want to do the work, or perhaps because we weren't sure they were able to do the work.

To successfully navigate the standards, student grades will need to reflect mastery of skills, not memory of content.

Today we must prepare them for a world in which they must know how to take initiative, self-advocate, solve problems, be creative, and accomplish tasks without minute-to-minute supervision.