Posts Tagged ‘grading’

This post has been a good year in the making, and I am not even close to being done with the project in a way that I can be thorough or complete with my thought. However, I do want to share what I have so far.

Last year, I attended some training with the Marzano Institute in relation to using proficiency scales. I can’t even get into that here in one blog post. There is a lot to think about, but the following chart is the result of that training, and I use it almost every day in the classroom.  
This is the grading scale I use for most assignments in my classroom. You will notice that the lowest grade a student can get on the assignment is a 2 out of 4, or a 50%.

Some people may be groaning right now. I get it. I see the reasons why this looks like I am trying to “make it easier” for the students. But this is not the case. Rather, I am making it fair.

Let me explain.

It is not easy to fail on a scale like this unless a student does not turn in work. Then I still give students a zero on the assignment. On the flip side, it is also not easy for students to get a 4 on most assignments in my classroom.

Take writing for example. Today in my class, students rewrote a paragraph for me where they were showing their ability to correct or edit a few different grammar mistakes. On an assignment like this, I do not mark how many they miss. Rather, I look at their work and give them a grade based on where they stand on the scale: advanced, proficient, low proficient, or basic. I rarely have a student in the below basic category on this assignment.

For me and the students in my class, this makes sense. They know where they stand on the assignment. It also works well when for our Standard Based Report Cards that are aligned to the Common Core.  Students really like the scales because the seem fair to them.

This is what I have observed after having used this scale for the last year:

  • I have lots of B- and C students.
  • It is hard to get a solid A in the class. if a students does this, the grade reflects that this is truly a student who is performing at the “advanced” level.
  • I do not have very many students fail the class. If they do, it due to a lack of turning in work.
  • I do give deadlines, but student grades cannot be penalized for being late when they are tied to a standard.
  • Grading like this takes a huge shift in mindset.

I would love to hear the thoughts of you who have used similar scales. What works. What doesn’t. How did students, parents, administrators etc. respond?


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Yesterday, my Seniors turned int their stop motion animations, and we watched them as a class. I just have to say that I love watching student films, no matter how choppy or crazy they may be! Student work like this always amazes me because it shows what great minds these student have.

If I had my way, I wouldn’t worry about grading a project like this at all. In my eyes, just the fact that they went through the process of making the movie based on a classic story from the Decameron shows that they learned plenty. However, today’s students expect a grade for their work and so do parents, administrators, and the state. Teacher have to show that the student learned something by the means of points in a gradebook.

I am not a fan of huge rubrics. Notice that I did not say “I am not a huge fan of rubrics.” It is the other way around for a purpose! I think that the more simple a rubric is, the better off students are, especially when creating a project like a video. The reason for this is that a rubric with 15 different points of achievement may limit the creativity of the student. The whole point of this project is to stretch a student’s thinking, and in order for this to happen, the student has to have some room to think.

Here’s my rubric for this project:

3 points – Video/Story

3 points – Music/Sound Effects

3 points – Attribution

That’s it. That is what I gave to the students as a guide for creating their video. There was another grade early in the project for creating a storyboard, but for the actual video, this is what they got.

I think it worked quite well.

Now I know that there are some out there who are saying, “But what about the standards? The rubric should reflect the state standards and show that the students achieved something in the course of the project.” I am betting that if you asked my students, most of them would be able to recite the common core standard that the worked toward achieving during the project. For this project, the standard was the main goal:

RL.11-12.5: Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

Not only did students learn how an author’s choices make a piece of writing a piece of art, they examined the choices, made their own choices, and made a piece of art their own. They actually became the artist. There is no better way to learn a concept than to practice it.

If you haven’t figured it out already, the whole point of this post is not to trash on rubrics. I know that students need to first know what is expected, and secondly, we have to show that students are learning something. That is the reality of working in education. However, it doesn’t have to be painful. When I see a rubric with 15 different points on it, I feel sorry for both the student and the teacher. Both are going through a lot more headache than necessary for the sake of learning.


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