I am in my classroom for the first time since May.
I switched over to standards based grading a few years ago, and while I love the way it sets up my classroom, I have yet to find that perfect balance. I have been grading on a 4 point scale and I don't like it. This seems to be the most popular set up, but for me, it has just turned into a nightmare.
Assigning a 1 means you don't get it. Did you totally get it? Good, you get a 4. What if you just made a minor error? Okay, 3.5. But what if you started out like you knew what was going on and then wandered off somewhere? Is it a 2? Did you explain it well the other day during whiteboarding? Maybe it should be a 3.
This is where I really start to have issues. I found myself so often making a judgement call as to whether or not I thought the student really got it.
I am totally intrigued with the binary set up that some are moving towards. This makes it more black and white. You either get it (1) or you don't (0), right? The problem is that I do like a little bit of gray, kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. Some kids just aren't quite there yet and I am a bit nervous about a 0 being taken the wrong way.
So here's what I got:
2 = You got it. No errors, you have mastered this idea.
1 = You are on the right track. There may have been some errors, be it in the arithmetic, set-up, units*, but you at least seem to have an idea about what is going on.
0 = Yeah, you don't get it.
Is this still binary or do we call it tertiary? I'm not sure, but I am pretty excited about getting rid of that middle ground.
Part two of my overhaul involves how I mold this into a letter grade. In my 4 point system, I counted two grades for each standard. The highest mark received was added to the most recent mark. This worked out to being a percentage out of 8 total points for each standard. This worked okay. Some kids never seemed to really understand how their grade was figured, even when I had the keep track on their own.**
With this system, I am going to drop the highest and go with only the most recent. There are few things more frustrating than kids thinking they can forget everything after the test. And so much of what we do in chemistry builds on itself that I can't really allow that to happen.
Now comes the translation. I am still playing with this for a couple of reasons.
First, this is where the only resistance I have ever had from my principal comes in. I am having an incredibly difficult time getting him to let me move away from percentages. I'm not sure why. Well, okay, I'm sure he believes he will have to field more calls from parents. I'm going to hit him up again tomorrow after I finalize my system.
Which brings me to the hard part. Here's my thinking.
*Three or more 0 can't get you through the class.
*0 on any objective and the majority of the other scores are 1 = D.
Now here's where I get stuck. There are some ideas in chemistry that simply must be understood. Conservation of matter, lab skills, nomenclature. (There are more, I am working on my list.) These are the "gold" standards. You must have a 2 on all of these to get an A or B.
*2 on all gold standards, 0 on any objective and the majority of the other scores are 2 = C.
*2 on all gold standards and no more than two 1 on the others = B.
*2 on all standards and and at least two capstone projects = A.
This could change. I am rewriting my objectives today so that they fit more into this grading scheme and also so they are easier to understand. I am thinking I will have 10 gold standards and probably another 12-20 others. (Going to have to call them "blue" I suppose, school colors and all.)
What do you think? Does this even make sense? Is it too hard to follow?
*Not labeling numbers are killing my kids. From here on out, you can't convince me that you have mastered the idea until you label everything. I am pretty sure someone wrote about this at some point this summer, but I can't seem to locate that post. Whoever you are, thank you for putting that out there!
**Of course, an alarmingly large portion of that group didn't know where any of their percentages came from.