1. Drop That "Busy Work" Like It's Hot

    cooperativecatalyst:

    So here is the skinny on grading and assessment. I must first admit, it is something that we constantly have to work on in my building. Do the assignments that we ask our students to complete in our classrooms have a purpose? If the answer is no – then stop assigning them – like, now.

    There are several areas that we should focus on when bringing purposeful assessment to your building:

    Drop the Zero

    100-point grading scales are mathematically inaccurate – it is a fact. We must stop the use of the zero in our buildings immediately. The zero holds six times more weight than any other grade that we can assign students. Use of the zero in our grading practices could potentially eliminate a student’s chances of passing a course in the first semester. This is what I refer to as the Grading Abyss. It is a pitfall, that when students fall into it, they will act a fool in your class as they have no mathematical chance of passing your course – even with a 100%.

    Laws of Averaging State: 0% + 100% = 100%; when we divide that by 2, we get 50%. A failing grade. Bummer.

    Read more about dropping the use of the zero here.

    Are Your Grades Polluted?

    Do you know why we grade students? You should.

    Grades, at least at the middle and secondary levels, are about student proficiency with the standards that we teach. Anything else that we grade students on – other than proficiency on the standards – pollutes your grades. Say, if you grade students on participation (subjective) or behavior (subjective) – the grade becomes a reflection of much more than the student’s proficiency on the standards you are teaching. Parents when they see an A or a D on a progress report would not know whether the students are proficient on the standards, or are just a compliant student in your class.

    Your grades are polluted. You can read more about grading pollution here.

    Meaningful Feedback

    Grading for completion? C’mon… you know you’ve done it. I was guilty of it during my early years in the classroom.

    If we assign students work, we owe it to them to provide them with meaningful feedback. Checking (and assigning grades) for completion is nothing but “busy work”. Our students know that and they are on to us.

    What if we grade for completion, but a student actually doesn’t have a clue about what they are talking about. Hypothetically one could pass a student that knows nothing about the content area that we are teaching them in. Again, bummer. We would be guilty of contributing to just passing students on.

    If you assign work – provide your students with meaningful feedback.

    In schools across this country, we must tighten up our grading and assessment practices. The ability to assign grades comes with a lot of power. With great power, comes great responsibility.

    If we haphazardly assign grades and award credit without reason, we are going to produce students that are not proficient in any areas. On the other end, we are also failing hundreds of thousands of students every year based on what? This question is especially important when we reflect on the reasons for the 1.2 million high school dropouts that we encounter each year in the United States.

    So, I ask that as you begin the new school year that you look hard and redefine assessment in your classroom, schoolhouse, or district. Go forth and do great things.

    Reblogged from: cooperativecatalyst
  2. External feedback is the most effective way to boost intrinsic motivation that I have come across to date. If we can get children collaborating on their learning and highlighting the needs they have for their own development, then maybe we as educators will earn a gold star for assessment.
  3. Students should be at the center of Authentic Assessment « Cooperative Catalyst

    What is Authentic Assessment? What is the purpose of assessment, grades, tests?

    It is not enough to just assess what students know or don’t know and mark it in a book or relay it to the parents, twice a year at conferences. I think assessment should be used solely for the the betterment and growth of student as they seek to make meaningful constructions of the knowledge of the world. It should help the child and teachers (parents) look at what and how they know the things they do, to further their learning.

    I have never understood why the assessment is often so one-sided. The teacher is merely one voice in the conversation. When the student is not at the center of the assessment, then it is detached and fragmented lacking any power to lead to real authentic growth. Students might preform well, might score well on the state test, or complete all the assignments, but the minute the voice disappears there is no motivation or resources for the child to do their own work.

     There is a deeper level of authentic praise and satisfaction that comes from active learning and excellence work. The natural power that comes from meaningful learning is an intrinsic feeling that is transferable for children for the rest of their life.

  4. Teaching Insanity: Teaching to the Test

    teachinginsanity:

    My students are in the midst of taking their preliminary examinations - examinations as preparation for their standardised tests.

    At the end of the day, nothing is more important than how they do in the standardised tests - it’s important to both me, my students and my school. Me because their…

    Reblogged from:
  5. "You can’t rely on one source to evaluate anybody," Nievinski said.

    Grading Our Teachers: Job evaluation reform gains traction | Wausau Daily Herald | wausaudailyherald.com

    Don’t agree with everything this article is saying but this statement is a step in the right direction.

  6. Students should be at the center of Authentic Assessment « Cooperative Catalyst

    So, Why do you think grades and teacher driven assessment is still so central to school?

    What are some simple ways for teachers and students to change this?

    How do we start to have the conversation with parents, teachers and students about these issues?

    Here are a few questions I posed in my most recent Cooperative Catalyst post. Love to have you click through and give your thoughts.

  7. I believe it is ideal to invite the student to participate in understanding and creating the goals of their learning. Often in my reading and observation of classrooms, the students are just informed of their learning goals. They are put up on a poster or given as a rubric to the students. Are we not just repeating traditional assessment then under a new name and format? This process paints a picture of student involvement or student centered assessment, but still see the teacher or the other as the true source of assessment. Just informing the students of the “standards” to be reached or outcomes of their study is not enough. We should allow them to be an active part of the conversation and thinking around the what, how and why of their learning.
  8. What are we going to do as teachers to make this truly a historical picture? Any school with desk is rows… needs to see this picture… time for change…. yes indeed!
visualturn:

Students in a classroom during scholarship examinations, 16 April 1940.
Public domain image from State Library of Queensland, Australia, available at Wikipedia.
Seventy years and not much changes. 
Your grandparents were subjected to standardized testing too. I especially love the test proctor lurking ominously in the back corner.
— Visual Turn

    What are we going to do as teachers to make this truly a historical picture? Any school with desk is rows… needs to see this picture… time for change…. yes indeed!

    visualturn:

    Students in a classroom during scholarship examinations, 16 April 1940.

    • Public domain image from State Library of Queensland, Australia, available at Wikipedia.

    Seventy years and not much changes. 

    Your grandparents were subjected to standardized testing too. I especially love the test proctor lurking ominously in the back corner.

    Visual Turn

    Reblogged from: visualturn
  9. Library Workers Step In For Teachers In Atlanta Amid Budget Shortfall

    "Dozens" of employees from APS’ media centers are being placed in positions vacated by teachers involved in the district-wide cheating scandal, positions that the library workers say they aren’t certified or comfortable to take on, WSBTV reports.

    "I haven’t taught elementary level education in 21 plus years," one employee wrote in an e-mail to WSBTV. "I’m not prepared to teach the very children who have been cheated by the cheating scandal."

    First the teacher were scapegoated for a broken system which was designed to give incentive to cheat and now the children are being punished. Don’t think by removing the teachers the system will be fixed. This is a systematic problem, a problem of a test that does not assess learning, nor the ability to teach.

    How many times do we need to say or better yet show that the test is the cause of a lot of the problem?

    How many times do we need to say we have no problem with assessment­?

    We have a problem with a system that does not trust teachers or students or communitie­s to assess their own work.

    We want quality education, we want meaningful education, we want to get better and grow, we don’t need tests to assess this. 

  10. Dr. Polakow-Suransky said the challenge was to create an additional assessment that will ‘strengthen instruction.’

    I say he ought to examine the premise of the law and challenge it, because the goal ought to be to strengthen teaching and learning. This entire exercise strikes me as a ‘gotcha game’ whose outcome will undermine the teaching profession, increase disrespect among students for schooling, and take time away from teaching and learning. It will, however, allow students to strengthen their bargaining and blackmailing skills.

    Assessments can strengthen instruction, of course. Frequent school-based tests in math, for example, can pinpoint which teachers are having difficulty getting certain concepts across; they can then learn different approaches from their more successful peers. That’s not ‘gotcha’ testing but sensible assessment with an immediate feedback loop.

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