Frequently Asked Questions About Grading and Assessments
How do we use assessments?
Student assessment provides teachers, students, and parents feedback about how each learner is progressing. The data from the assessments is used to make decisions about future instruction and overall performance against a standard or benchmark.
We administer both formative and summative assessments to monitor student learning. Our formative assessments offer ongoing information about students and inform teachers on what they need to do in future lessons to increase achievement. Summative assessments give teachers feedback about student learning following the instruction. Unlike the formative assessments, the summative data is not used to guide future instruction.
v Formative assessment examples: Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), short math quizzes,writer’s notebook entries, specific homework assignments, etc.
v Summative Assessment Examples: MSP/WASL, ITBS, CogAT, end of the year math assessment,etc.
When we make decisions about a student’s performance we believe that triangulating the data provides the best picture of what a student really knows or understands. In this process we take observational data and at least two other data points and analyze for congruence. If our perceptual data matches what the other information about learning is telling us then we feel reasonably certain about our conclusions. Additionally, utilizing more than one data point ensures that we are not rewarding or penalizing students for performing well or struggling simply because of the assessment.
What is the purpose of grading?
The quintessential means for providing feedback to students about performance is grading. This practice has changed greatly in the past decade. We are no longer focused on percentages and fractions to calculate a grade. When we attach a letter grade or percentage we miss out on a valuable opportunity to offer specific feedback about learning. The number correct out of the number possible only targets the student’s understanding at a macro-level.
Instead, we developed a 4-Point rubric to offer feedback to students and tell them what their specific deficits and strengths are. Therefore, atop student work one will find numbers such as4, 3.5, 3, 2.5, 2, or 1. These numbers indicate whether a student has exceeded the learning expectation, met the objective, or are still progressing toward the intended outcome. We caution others not to correlate the numbers to traditional letter grades. A score of 4 neither equates to an “A” nor automatically assumes the learning is at the next grade level. However, a 4 does indicate that the student has exceeded the standard,knows and applies simple or complex information and demonstrates in-depth inferences. Please see the Academic Evaluation Rubric for more details about the different numeric scores.
We also use the designations of C-Consistently, G-Generally, N-Needs Prompting, and R-Rarely to evaluate some academic standards and all or our work habits and study skills. This grading tool is used independently of the 4-Point rubric. A student can earn a 3.5 or 4 on a particular reading standard, but receive an R in a work habits area. Thus, the C, G, N and R measure effort and character while the 4-Pointrubric indicates understanding and knowledge of the material.
Assessing and grading students is an evolving practice within our profession. Our ultimate goal is to inform each student about his/her progress and offer way she/she can reach his/her potential.
How is the standards based system different from what I remember in school?
Whereas we find comfort in the “traditional” grading paradigm of percents and letter grades,the standards based grading system is vastly different in several ways.
§ Teachers use trend grading, looking at a child’s performance across the entire trimester.
§ The teacher is looking for improvement or consistency over time, emphasizing that a child may not have done as well in the beginning as they were learning new concepts.
§ Students are not penalized for one bad performance.
§ Every child has the ability to reach or exceed the standard.
§ Students do not earn a percentage that is then converted into a letter grade.
§ Students earn a numeric score ranging from a 1 to a 4, which indicates his/her mastery of the standard. There is NOT a correlation between a letter grade and number. For example, a 4 is not an A and a 1 is not a D.
Interpreting the Report Card
Academic Evaluation Key:
4 = Exceeding Standards at Trimester
• In addition to Score 3 performance, the student
demonstrates in-depth inferences and/or applications.
3 = Meets Standards at Trimester
• The student knows and applies the simple or complex
information and/or processes that were explicitly taught.
• There are no major errors or omissions.
2 = Progressing Toward Standards at Trimester
• The student knows simpler details and processes.
• There are major errors or omissions regarding
the more complex ideas and processes.
1 = Below Standards at Trimester
• With help,the student demonstrates a partial
understanding of some of the simpler and complex details
NA= Not Assessed this Trimester
• No Basis for evaluation
* = This student receives all instruction in this subject area in special
education and not in the general education program. Please see the
IEP:Measurable Goals - Report of Progress accompanying this
*** When you access your child’s on-line report card you will have more access to grade specific details!
Work Habits and Study Skills
Shows respect for others: Works well in a group. Accomplishes tasks, doesn’t require adult intervention to solve problems, is willing to work with anyone, gets along with seat mates, helps,listens and encourages.
Participates appropriately: Follows along during group activities, listens during directions and teacher instruction, doesn’t ask questions that have already been covered. Maintains eye contact, reacts promptly to the class signal. Share ideas and answers questions regularly.
Shows respect for property: Takes care of books and supplies. Both are free from markings or signs of misuse, and stored appropriately. Materials are used for their proper intent, not played with or constantly lost or misplaced. Respects others’ materials and space, as well.
Meets homework requirements: Homework is completed and turned in on time.
R=unable to turn in assignments independently without reminders. Is frequently in Study Hall.
Chooses appropriate times to interact with peers: Understands and respects quiet work periods, talks at appropriate times and is able to transition smoothly and appropriately between the two.
Follows directions (written and oral): Completes morning and afternoon routines without reminders. Reads and follows written directions.
Is prepared with materials and ready to work: Comes to class rested, fed, with homework complete, has needed materials, no need to call home.
Organizes workspace and materials: Maintains binder, desk and workspace. Locates necessary materials quickly.
Makes productive use of class time: Stays focused and completes assignments in an appropriate amount of time.
Works independently: Works independently with fifth grade curriculum. Doesn’t require an unusual amount of guidance with directions and produces a quality product. Is self-reliant and comfortable making independent choices.
Produces quality work: Papers and projects are done to the best of your ability, free from doodles, random marking, and scribbles. Includes heading on papers. Any erasing or corrections are done neatly and carefully. Cutting, pasting, etc. is neat and straight.
Writes legibly: Work is legible and appears to be done carefully. (Straight, proper size, formation, spacing)