Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grading for Mastery: Learning to Ride a Bike

Grading for Mastery:  Learning to ride a bike

Instructional adjustment
Unable to ride the bike.  Unable to balance.
Training wheels
Able to ride the bike but is wobbly and may have to stop often to regain balance.
Hold the bike as the student begins. Let go.  Allow for practice time. Allow student frequent stops. If unsuccessful, put the training wheels back on.
Able to ride the bike for a long distance without stopping.
Allow practice time.  Begin introducing tricks.
Able to ride bike and perform tricks and can confidently ride at higher speeds.
Allow for some practice and then move on to unicycle

Traditional Grading: Learning to ride the bike

Assessment will be graded based on the percentage of feet riden on a 100 foot ride.  Points will be taken off when a student has to stop to regain balance.

Student 1
Attempt 1 = 100%
Attempt 2 = 85% (actually went 100 feet but did it a day late-my policy is 15% off per day late)
Attempt 3 = 100%
Attempt 4 = 0% (did not do the test)
Attempt 5 = 100%
Average 77%=D+

Student 2
Attempt 1 = 70%
Attempt 2 = 75%
Attempt 3 = 70%
Attempt 4 = 85%
Attempt 5 = 85%
Average 77% =D+

Given that both students received a D+, should the intervention be the same for both children?

Grading for Mastery

Grading for Mastery

Why Grade for Mastery?
Our goal is for students to master the content.  The best way to find out if they have mastered the content is to create a grading system based on mastery.  When using averages, we really can’t look at the letter grade and decide what is meant.  As an example, in a traditional grading system using averages,  if a student scores:

Assessment 1 = 60%
Assessment 2 = 70%
Assessment 3 = 90%
Assessment 4 = 100%
Assessment 5 = 100%

Average = 84% which is a C.  However, the student is now performing at the expected level.

Averages struggle to tell where a student is in comparison to a given standard.  They are better at telling how a student did over a period of time.  When grading for mastery, you want to find out how the student is currently doing on a specific criteria.

What does a grade mean?
To determine the level of mastery, we use the terms Beginning, Progressing, Proficient, and Advanced.  Averages are not used.  Instead, we see how the student currently does in comparison with a given performance criteria.  This explains where a student is in contrast to a grade level expectation of performance.  

In contrast, traditional grades have no specific meaning to them.  In some teachers gradebook, a C might mean that the student is performing average.  In another teacher’s gradebook, 90% of the students might get an A.  In that case, a C is far below average.

Specific Feedback based on skills we want to see Mastered

Rather than having a system that includes several factors into the grade, we grade using mastery of specific strands of content.  Therefore, if you want to see how your child is doing on number sense, we can tell you that using this system.  In a traditional grade, we have no way of separating out specific skills.  We might tell you that the student received an A in the class but not be able to tell you where your child can improve.  It might feel good to hear your child has an A, but as a parent or a teacher, it doesn't provide feedback on the strengths and on areas of potential improvement for your child.