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Neil McLeod

TCHL 878-99

What Do I Know or Think That I Know

1) Although there is familiarity and some advantages to using a 100 point scale

for grading, there are definite disadvantages to using this grading schema. The

main problem with utilizing a 100 point scale is that the scale is not conducive to

actually determining the proficiency of the student in the desired learning

objectives. In a typical assessment the teacher might have a series of multiple-

choice, fill in the blank and true-false questions followed by short answer or essay

questions. In a 100 point system it is necessary for the teacher to assign point

values to each individual question and then to determine the total score for the

assessment the teacher simply adds up the point values to obtain the final score.

However, because of the objectiveness of assigning point values to questions the

score that the student receives may not be reflective of their mastery of the

material.

Another problem with the 100 point scale is that it leaves a lot of room for

individual teacher interpretation of the students test scores. On page 41 of the

textbook there is a very clear example that showed that different teachers assign

scores very differently from one another. In the sample test, the same test results

received anywhere from a 40% to an 80%. Its insane to realize that the same

answers from a student might receive a failing grade or an above average grade

completely dependent on how the teacher is grading the test.

Because grades are the primary way of communicating the learning

accomplishment of students to teachers, parents, and other faculty the grades must

be reflective of the actual learning of the student. Therefore, its important to realize
that there are definite problems in the use of a 100 point scale, and it could be

prudent to explore other grading scales.

2) There are several things to keep in mind while designing a grading scale. The

primary goal for writing the scale should be to create a means of accurately relating

the progress of the student in a clear and meaningful way. The textbook suggests

using a scale that ranges from 0.0 to 4.0. At a 3.0 on this scale the student has met

the learning objectives. As you move to either higher or lower than the 3.0 the

progress of the student becomes more complex or simpler from the desired goal. At

a 4.0 the student has demonstrated mastery of all learning objectives, and can

apply this knowledge in more complex scenarios. Oppositely, at the 2.0 the student

hasnt met the learning goals required, but can apply their knowledge to simpler

scenarios. At 1.0 the student can only demonstrate knowledge when given guidance

and helped, and at 0.0 the student has no success even with assistance.

In order to write a good scale one must first have access to a list of good

standards required for the class. The standards can either be provided by the

district or the school, or if that is not the case it might be best to develop the

standards with other teachers of the same curriculum. Once the standards have

been established, you can begin to write the scale. Put the expected standard at 3.0

on the scale, and then brainstorm ways that students can show competency for

knowledge and application that is more complex than the standard, and then in

turn, less complex than the standard. Once these two levels have been ironed out,

place the more complex learning goal at 4.0 on the scale and the simpler learning

goal at 2.0 on the scale. Level 1.0 is almost always defined by the student

demonstrating the 2.0 goal, but with assistance. Level 0.0 is defined as the student

not demonstrating any proficiency whatsoever.


It also might be beneficial to striate the grading scale to be able to more

finely-tune the measurement of a students abilities. Adding in a half point between

each level, or even dividing it by three, can allow all parties involved to have a

better understanding of the progress of the student, and what to work on to achieve

the higher levels.

3) Having students re-write standards in their own words can be very helpful. In

order for grading to be completely fair, the system needs to be in the open and not

hidden from the students. Even though most teachers place their grading system

front and center in the syllabus at the beginning of the year, this does not

guarantee that the student understands what exactly is expected from them

throughout the class. When a teacher requires a student to re-write the standards in

their own words the teacher and the student can come to an understanding about

what demonstrations the teacher is looking for in the students learning.

It might also be helpful to have students come up with examples of those

demonstrations. Thereby when the student has concerns or questions about why

they received the score that they did, the teacher can clearly point to the student

written scale for the deficiencies in the students work.

4) The first step to translate a previously used assessment into a grading scale

is to look at the questions individually and assess whether the question is probing

the students knowledge of the content at the 2.0, 3.0, or 4.0 levels. Once those

questions have been designated into specific categories, the teacher can use those

questions to assess the students knowledge of that content and at what level the

student has achieved.


It might also be necessary for the teacher to develop new questions to fully

flesh out the test in specific areas. If a teacher previously made tests that were

much harder than needed, there might be too many 4.0 level questions, and little to

no 2.0 level questions. Therefore, the teacher might have to remove some 4.0

questions and develop questions that would test the students knowledge of simpler

complex. In an opposite example, a test might have had a lot of easier questions. In

this case, it would be important for the teacher to add some questions that test for

complex knowledge in order to really assess if the student has reached the 4.0 level

in their knowledge.

For time and effort its important to re-use as many resources as possible

when transitioning to a grading scale. However, its important to remember that the

entire purpose of the change is to be able to clearly assess students skill in relation

to specific learning goals. Sometimes adjustments should be made in order to fully

assess how a student progressed in relation to those specific criteria.

5) There were a lot of items in the videos in this module that caught my

attention. I found Rick Wormelis comments about education to be very refreshing.

Its obvious that he has spent his life cultivating a love of learning for himself and

his students. It seemed to me that the central focus of the teaching strategy that he

subscribes to is that the learning progression of his students is the whole point of

teaching. He pointed out time and again the shortcomings in the traditional

education system in the US.

I found it especially insightful the several times that he called teachers to the

carpet. He pointed out that some teachers rely on thinking along the lines of this is

how the world works or they need to learn responsibility. Mr. Wormeli consistently
pointed out the flaws in this thinking, and the destructive nature to the learning

environment that this can cause.

The beginning of the semester was my first introduction to standard based

learning. Since then Ive done a lot of thinking about how to apply this to a

classroom that I might be responsible for. I really enjoyed the videos in this module,

because they helped answer a lot of questions that I had about how to apply

standard based assessments in the classroom. I had a really hard time in my

previous teaching job dealing with late assignments. The district had the policy that

students could redo ANY assignment or test up to two weeks after the semester was

over. Because I hadnt known any different, I was pretty invested in the thinking that

Mr. Wormeli points out is incorrect. I thought we were doing a disservice to the

students by allowing them so much slack in regards to their work. However, after

reading more about this theory I realize that the districts policy was not as

inhibitory as I originally thought. In fact, as I learn to use these strategies more

effectively I dont think that policy would present a problem to me at all.

Overall, its most important to realize my job as a teacher is not to be a gate

keeper to decide what students should move on to higher educational levels. My

job is to be a facilitator. I should be empowering students to achieve the levels that

they desire to reach. Even though I had ALWAYS thought this about teaching, these

videos really helped me realize that some of the grading systems that Ive come to

just expect as the best inherently present disadvantages to many students.