Collecting Evidence…

Our district is in the process of transitioning to standards-referenced grading.  I’ve been using standards-based practices in my classroom for years, so this really isn’t anything new to me.  However, the reporting aspect is usually where everyone gets hung up, myself included.  How do we accurately reflect student learning?  Because we are standards-referenced and not standards-based, we still will use letter grades to ultimately report student progress.  Teachers will enter a 1, 2, 3, or 4 based on a student’s level of proficiency and our online grade book will convert that to a percentage based on a 100% scale.  While that in itself could be discussed until my youngest child becomes an old man… I’d prefer to talk about how to gauge student progress.

The words assess, re-assess, and retake all get thrown around and teachers discuss and debate all the time the right way to determine student learning.  I’ve decided to go with a whole new approach this year where hopefully those words won’t be uttered in my classroom.

This year I’m going to collect evidence.  I’m not going to give a quiz or a test or a formative or summative assessment.  I’m just going to collect evidence.  And I’m going to collect multiple pieces of evidence over time…much like a crime show gathers evidence to determine a suspect’s guilt or innocence.  The more evidence a detective has, the more confident that detective is in solving the case.  (I’m watching Blue Bloods on Netflix while I exercise…can you tell?)

I’m creating “folders” for each standard for each of my classes.  Students will store their evidence on those folders and record their progress on the outside of those folders.  There will only be 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s on the outside of their folders along the name of the evidence.

The best part of an online community is the collaboration of other teachers.  A few years ago, I met a colleague through Twitter.  He just so happens to teach across town so we’ve been able to get together from time to time.  He sent me a way to determine a student’s final mark regarding progress toward a standard and I’m very excited to try it out.

Students will provide evidence at least 3 times and be given a 1 (beginning), 2 (progressing), 3 (meeting), or 4 (advanced) as already defined by proficiency scales that have already been created (or are in process of being finished as I type this – which is another blog post, but has been a game changer when it comes to determining student progress).

The final mark will be determined through professional judgement (the art of teaching) using the mode of scores in combination with the most recent score.

This year our grade book will not automatically do the calculation so I’m going to use the following scale to assign a grade as I am required to do:

1 – 50%

2 – 70%

3 – 90%

4 – 100%

I have multiple goals with this.

  1. Be prepared for when the district is in full implementation of SRG.
  2. Take the focus off of grades and put that focus onto learning. – THIS IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL!!
  3. Eliminate the dreaded retake process.  Learning is on a continuum.  There isn’t an end date.  Students will (hopefully) learn that if the evidence doesn’t show what they want the first time, there will be other opportunities to provide more evidence.

There are tons of other goals as well… but those are the big 3.

How much confidence do I have in this?  I’m super excited to move away from “quizzing” and “testing” students.  I’ve been assessing multiple times for several years, so it’s basically a change in terminology which again I’m super excited about.  But I really have no idea… when it’s new, it’s new and I’m attempting to #sucklesseveryday.  (another Dave Richard idea that I have “borrowed”).

Peace, Love, Math, and collecting evidence…


Author: Megan Heine

I am a HS math teacher - teaching Algebra 2, Geometry, Financial Literacy, and Prob & Stats. I am loud, passionate, intense, and fanatical about students, math, INB's, Apple, Google, and softball. I read a book a week, get up at 4am, and change my hair every year.

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