Replacing Scores

09 Jun

There are so many blogs I read about Standards-Based Grading. I jumped in with both feet last year and loved the way it changed my classroom. I’m at the middle school level and am doing a hybrid between standards-based grading and traditional grading due to site and district concerns with me moving to 100% assessment in my 7th-grade math classroom. We’re at 75%/25%, and that’s ok. We’re figuring out how to make it work. Here’s where I struggle though. Pretty much everything I’ve read about SBG encourages replacing scores. Students should not be penalized because they take longer to master a topic. I get that, and I agree. A student who scores a 2/4 on a topic at the quiz halfway through the unit but scores a 4/4  on the test at the end of the chapter is rewarded with the 4/4 because s/he proved proficiency, but what do you do when a student does worse on a later assessment? When following the cardinal SBG rule of only letting students re-test after doing some form of intervention and tutoring, this is rarely the case. But what about the objective that is tested on a quiz and then a subsequent test? Students don’t always do better. You could make the argument that the student didn’t really master the topic on the quiz because the skill was not committed to long-term memory. This past year we did nothing when they did worse. I struggle with that a little bit. What do others do?

My problem with constantly replacing is that ultimately that means the midterm or final, if they are comprehensive, are actually the entire grade. Students will figure out that it doesn’t really matter what they get on every assessment if the midterm/final trumps all. Granted the other assessments guide students and teachers on what students understand and don’t, but I’m uncomfortable with this at the middle school level.


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4 responses to “Replacing Scores

  1. Matt Townsley

    June 10, 2010 at 2:03 am

    “My problem with constantly replacing is that ultimately that means the midterm or final, if they are comprehensive, are actually the entire grade.”

    It could be…but it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve weight grades using 85% learning target (standard) scores in which the newest score replaces old and 15% for the midterm/final. The midterm/final does not assess all of the standards (due to time constraints), so I grade it pretty traditionally (right/wrong) rather than breaking it down by standard. Is this ideal? Probably not, but it was my way of bringing in a summative experience while still embracing the standards-based grading philosophy for the super-majority of the time.

    I hope others will chime in with their two cents, too.

  2. Dan Anderson

    June 10, 2010 at 2:28 am

    You raise some great questions. Could you keep the midterms and final grades seperate of your standards grade? That way on those tests they can’t lose (or gain) standards points. Since both the midterm/final and standards grades are both important and apart, it’s harder to game the system.

  3. Shawn Cornally

    June 10, 2010 at 2:30 am

    For me there’s a giant difference between an SBG grade and the summative tests you’re talking about. They tell me different pieces of information that I want to factor into a kid’s final grade. The SBG scores tell me specific information about a kid’s abilities. I can max the kid out and really try to get an accurate picture. Whereas a summative test is really getting at retention and other — sometimes stress related — features of that child. Replacing SBG grades with performance on a summative test, I would argue, is the antithesis of SBG, but I can totally see where the idea would come from.

    In the end I think we’re all drinking the SBG kool-aid (me more than anyone) we have to see the forest for the trees and remember that this is about serving kids better, taking better pictures of their abilities, and making school more meaningful (i.e.: removing the points game) If that means blending SBG with other things, then, well, good!


  4. jalzen

    June 10, 2010 at 2:51 am

    It’s good to hear from you gentlemen. Reading your blogs is how I got where I am with SBG. This year, I did exactly what you all have said you do, but when I did it, I wasn’t sure if that was the status quo or if I was going down a road all by myself. Good to know that I’m at least in there with the majority somewhere. 😉


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