A Quick Grading Case Study

I ran the following example with a small group of teachers evaluating standards-based grading in their PLC. The teachers are on board (and all are attaching standards to work for feedback and assessment) but they needed to see a tangible example of why standards-based grades can help all students.

I'm going to steal Dan Meyer's Three Act structure with no shame. Each screenshot uses the same four (fictional) students.

Act 1

Questions for discussion:

  1. What can you tell (or infer) from this information?
  2. What cannot be inferred?
  3. Which student would you focus on for intervention? Why?
  4. What feedback would you give to each student?

Act 2

Questions for discussion:

  1. What do you notice?
  2. Which student would you focus on for intervention? Why?
  3. What can you infer from this information?

Act 3

Questions for discussion:

  1. What do you notice?
  2. What can you infer from this information?
  3. Where would you focus your interventions? Why?

We're using weighted categories for our students. Looking only at classwork (Act 1) doesn't show teachers gaps in the student learning. You can certainly target students for intervention, but it is based only on the the task completion, not necessarily the content.

In Act 2, we have a little more to go on because each assignment is aligned to a specific standard or skill. The big takeaway is that the student with the lowest assignment score (row 3) is actually learning all of the standards. The learning gaps are hidden for the "responsible" student who turns their work if we don't take standards into account.

Act 3 brings it home for teachers. Where do the 1's and 0's come from? It's from aggregated information over time. In this view, color coding (we have set up through Canvas) is a quick gauge of class comprehension on each standard. I can use this information to plan more effectively to help all students reach learning goals.

In the end, teachers wanted to know the student's calculated score. This table shows what would be on the student report card:

Student Classwork (20%) Standards (80%) Final score (%)
1 85.2 33.3 43.4
2 70.4 50 54.1
3 62.7 100 92.5
4 81.5 66.7 69.7

Standards-based grading can help root out lack of learning by moving the focus away from compliance. Assessing learning goals and making them the focus of feedback and reporting helps make that change a reality.