Rethinking Grading

“It’s a shame that this is what our education has come to — making the grade. Getting an A is more important than learning the material — ask any of the hundreds of high schoolers who spend their nights and lunch periods cramming for tests, only to lose the information days later. Even for AP tests, SATs or ACTs, people who strive to do well study as hard as they can to learn as much as they can in a short time frame, but after the test, that information that they struggled to retain no longer matters. Grades are what matter, not knowledge.”

So writes Melissa Grossbarth, a senior in my AP Physics class, in a piece about my standards-based grading system for her column in the local paper. I’m really excited about the impact we can have on kids and learning just by changing how we grade.

Be sure to head over and read the rest of Melissa’s article. Then leave her a comment, tweet it, and/or like it if you agree with her: Rethinking Grading

10 responses to “Rethinking Grading

  1. Nice start to a discussion. I would like to hear more of the students discussions & thoughts. I am doing the same with my students (SBG). They also have some good thoughts & comments. We also discussed being a “Student or a Learner”. It is a long term process to changing outlooks. I wish we would get rid of grades completely. Show Mastery & move on.

  2. You might want to direct your student to my post which points to and discusses and excellent essay “Just Scoring Points” by Walter R. Tschinke.

  3. I am warm to grading for specific goals; however when does it get put all together?
    Is there a learning goal for putting the entire model together?
    I don’t want to teach about a tree, another tree and another tree and not have my students realize they were learning about a forest!
    What would be the learning goal for something like that? What goal does the two car practicum ( or any practicum for that matter) tie to?
    What do all of you awesome teachers do?

    ( I grade by standards for a lot of learning goals, but I give myself leeway to count homework, unit tests and labs as well).


    • Good point. I am using Kelly O’Shea’s standards this year for College-Prep Physics. John Burk, Kelly, and I are using a conjunctive grading scale and if kids master all objectives (the trees), the grade is a 90. To get about a 90, kids need to see the forest. Kelly’s students work on goal-less problems to show synthesis. John and I are have kids produce capstones Screencasts of solving goal-less problems and practicum write-ups are both possible capstone projects. I’m really excited about this. Kids and I have been having some interesting discussions about possible capstone explorations.

  4. I started doing lab practicum quizzes with my freshman. They get to use their sheet from the practicum when they take it. To me it is a capstone of sorts. there is usually more than one way to solve it, so it is more about the entire model, not just one facet.
    What is a screencast? When do you do your capstones?

    • A screencast is a video of the students’ computer screen, so students would be solving the problem a la Khan Academy. Alternately, they could do a pencast (if they have a Livescribe pen) or just video themselves at a whiteboard or using a notebook (like Vi Hart). Whatever method they choose, the key component here is VOICE. Voice fills you in on whether the student really understands what is going on or whether they are just reading off a script a friend wrote for them.

      Students can work on capstones during “free choice time” which is every six days. They would also be expected to work on it outside of school. Students with a grade of 90 (mastered all objectives) can do 2 capstones at 5 points each for a 100. Students with grade below 90 can do only 1 capstone for 5 points. I would expect them to be working on mastering the remaining objectives instead of the second capstone.

      I need to blog about my version of SBG this year soon!

  5. Hello Mr. Noschese, my name is Katie and I am a student at the University of South Alabama, taught by Dr. John Strange. I was assigned to comment on your blog, and chose this interesting post. Your student, Melissa Grossbarth, is on the dot about students and grades. In high school students are not in their classes to learn, but for the grades. Many of them do not realize how important the aspect of actually understanding and learning the lesson…it is more about cramming down the information when they need to and memorizing everything they can to make the grade. As a future elementary teacher myself, I believe in having a grading system where it is all about participation, along with certain in class and out of class activities, and not about having constant tests.

  6. Pingback: Technology Integration for Math Engagement » Standards Based Grading Rubric for Math – Part 2

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