Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A total school post

Okay, if this is MY brain, I can only imagine the brains of my Statistics students tomorrow after taking their Final Exam. Whoa----just "took" it myself, and scored 34/40. It's straight from an AP-Statistics study book. Holy cow! It's easy to get overwhelmed, so I'll have to work on the test-taking strategies for the four students (out of my seven) who are actually planning to take the AP exam in May. Study sessions need to be planned. SO....I'll have some break time after this week from Statistics, but the subject will return come April :0)

The good news: I receive an automatic A without needing to complete the written response section. Ya see, that's the deal I made with the students-----if they score 30+ multiple choice out of the 40, they would receive an automatic A. Reasoning: 100% of students who scored 30+ questions on a previous AP Exam scored a 4 or 5 overall (the best scores possible). So, I my students can score 30+, they deserve an A! Hope that makes sense, cuz it's what I'm doing.

Ugh---that makes me think about some grading strategies teachers use. I simply don't agree with some teachers. Case-n-point.....some of you may think...."HM! 30 out of 40.....that's 75% Amy! Shouldn't that be a C?"

Not to me! And obviously not to the College Board either...(Thank goodness!)

Another "issue" I have is the Zero-Factor. {{for those of you still with me....this is what I mean...}}
Most grading ranges are: A's 90-100, B's 80-89, C's 70-79, D's 60-69, F's <60.
F's <60!??!?!!?!? That's a BIG range...!!!! While all the other grade categories are only a range of 10! Seems a bit unfair to me.
How do I go about grading?? Mainly, I flat-out use a letter-grade rubric on my assessments next to each concept tested. (HW is pretty much based on total points and/or completion). BUT, for assessments, EACH problem receives a grade and the concepts are entered into the system (kinda like Standards-based grading).

A = perfect (100%)
B = decent understanding but missing some little things
C = basic understanding
D = missing too much understanding, but has a slight start to understanding
F = no understanding shown
0 - no attempt
I DO use + and - grades as well.

Naturally, our school expects the "standard" grading scale to be used, so I "get around" the Zero-factor by entering percentages for the specific "grades", BUT, the percentage entered for "F" is 50% and the percentage for "no attempt" is entered as a 40%. I know there are some who will disagree with this procedure, just doesn't seem fair to enter a 0% for a grade when the next closest percent is 60% to "not be an F."
For homework though.....this isn't used. HW is pretty simple: total points. BUT, my HW grade is only 15% of the overall grade, while the Assessment grade is 60% of the overall grade.

I USED to grade with total points, but once the "zero-factor" was mentioned to me, I said...."Hm, yeah....that doesn't seem fair." So, I started tinkering with an equal scale rubric (that I currently use).
I USED to grade tests differently and placed one letter grade on the entire test based on the average overall understanding (not total points), BUT.....I would often look back at grades (maybe at a Parent-Teacher conference) and see "Test Unit 3, C" and wonder.....hmm....what was tested???
It's only been two years now where I list EVERY concept tested with a grade for each concept. This way, when I look at a grade printout, I can clearly see which CONCEPTS were not understood.

Whew----didn't mean to put all this out here, just kind of happened.

Bottom line tonight: My brain is fried. Hope my students come rested tomorrow.


Linda said...

This is scary--I totally followed your rational. With my SLD students I do similar grading and need to "tweek" the computer to come up with the letter grades I need.

Amanda said...

Thank goodness I always taught primary school children and our school didn't 'do' grading, though it took a lot longer to write meaningful comments on each piece of work. And then I had to read it to those children whose reading skills weren't up to par.