Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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.  

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