Tag: grading

Don’t Miss These Webinars

April 10, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 9.16.23 AMThere are more and more webinars coming up on proficiency-based or competency-based learning. We list them on Upcoming Events to the right of our web page — but just in case you missed them here they are:

How Competency-Based Education is Transforming Assessment and Accountability Systems in Schools Thursday, April 10, 2014, 3:00-4:00 PM ET

The final webinar in iNACOL’s  CCSSO Innovation Lab Network Webinar Series will feature Carmen Coleman, Danville School District, Kentucky  and Erica Stofanak (one of our contributing authors) Curriculum Instruction & Assessment Coach, Rochester School District, New Hampshire who will discuss measures for tracking student progress and growth, the various formative and summative assessments systems that are now in place, measuring teacher effectiveness, and the variety of reports utilized by administrators and teachers to indicate progress towards common goals. Various assessment tools will be shared that can be modified and utilized in other schools and districts with a similar vision.

Understanding Grading in Competency-based Schools Thursday, April 24, 2014, 2:00-3:00 PM ET

In this CompetencyWorks webinar Abbie Forbus and Brett Grimm from Lindsay Unified School District in California, will share Lindsay’s grading practices.  Lindsay Unified, a Race to the Top winner, has a strong personalized, performance-based system and well-developed grading system that emphasizes providing feedback to learners. Forbus and Grimm will provide an overview of the values and educational philosophy that guides Lindsay’s grading policy.  Then going into more depth, they will present the structure, practices, and reporting mechanisms. During this webinar you will learn how their information management system enables teachers, students and families to monitor student learning and progress along their learning progression. The final segment of the webinar will offer a discussion on implementation challenges and emerging issues.

Proficiency- & Competency-based Learning: Emerging Research on Implementation and Outcomes. May 5 12:30 – 2 ET.

Sponsored by REL-NEI, this webinar will explore emerging research on proficiency-based learning and its implications for practice in states, districts, and schools.  Jennifer Steele at RAND Corporation and Erika Stump at the University of Southern Maine’s Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation will present findings from their newly published studies.

Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified: Supporting Students with Disabilities May 21  3-4 ET

In this Great Schools Partnership webinar Angela Hardy, Senior Associate, Great Schools Partnership
Jon Ingram , Senior Associate, Great Schools Partnership, Shannon Shanning, Special Education Teacher, and Bruce M. Whittier Middle School, Poland, ME will  address the role of Individual Educations Plans in a proficiency-based system, including the development of appropriate modifications to ensure that students with disabilities achieve proficiency.

Learning My Lesson

April 3, 2014 by

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 10.28.14 AMI had asked my ninth grade students to write a “last” chapter to the novel Seedfolks by Paul Fleischmann we had finished reading as a class. I knew they had read the entire novel and even annotated it because we did all of our reading in this room. Sometimes we did it in a literature circle. Sometimes we did it by ourselves. Sometimes we used a form of Socratic Seminar to ask questions of each other and dig deeper into the author’s intended meaning.

But I knew all my students had read the novel and understood its metaphors, allusions and themes because we did the work together. And because of that, I knew they would be able to creatively adapt what they knew and believed.

I knew they’d be able to do it because I would be there to help them, guide them and monitor their progress because their work would be completed in class and during after school workshop sessions.

I knew their levels of competency because I assessed it every single day.

The pattern here isn’t new. Rick Wormeli suggests rethinking how we assign work to students and how we penalize them for not doing it. Both Wormeli and Doug Reeves make powerful arguments against “the zero” in the teacher grade book. (more…)

Understanding Grading in Competency-based Schools

March 18, 2014 by

On Thursday, April 24, 2014, 2:00-3:00 PM ET  CompetencyWorks is sponsoring a webinar Understanding Grading in Competency-based Schools. You can CompetencyWorks - Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education - January 2014register for the webinar here.

The webinar will start with an overview of competency education and the elements of grading in competency-based environments.

Abbie Forbus and Brett Grimm from Lindsay Unified School District in California will share Lindsay’s grading practices.  Lindsay Unified, a Race to the Top winner, has a strong personalized, performance-based system and well-developed grading system that emphasizes providing feedback to learners. Forbus and Grimm will provide an overview of the values and educational philosophy that guides Lindsay’s grading policy.  Then going into more depth, they will present the structure, practices, and reporting mechanisms. During this webinar you will learn how their information management system enables teachers, students and families to monitor student learning and progress along their learning progression.

The final segment of the webinar will offer a discussion on implementation challenges and emerging issues.

In preparation for the webinar we hope that you will review Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education, a CompetencyWorks briefing paper.

Speakers:

Abbie Forbus, Counselor, Lindsay Unified High School (CA)

Brett Grimm, Assistant Principal of Curriculum & Instruction, Lindsay Unified High School (CA)

Chris Sturgis, MetisNet and co-founder of CompetencyWorks

 

What is Proficiency-based Grading?

March 6, 2014 by

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The New England Secondary School Consortium has produced a GREAT resource, What is Proficiency-based Grading? The briefing outlines three elements of proficiency-based grades: 1) Connected to clearly defined learning objectives. 2) Separate academic achievement from behaviors, and, 3) Focused on learning progress.

The I Want to Know More supplement uses Casco Bay High School as an example to explore proficiency-based grading. They break down the grading policy into eight sets of principles and practices. I highlight this because I think it would make it so much easier for us to learn from each other if we start to talk about the principles that guide our practices.

Take a peek at the principles and practices below. It’s Principle 3 where we start to see schools begin to innovate around staffing, scheduling, and embedding supports into the school day. Too many schools say that they are doing standards-based grading, but just pass kids on with Cs and Ds to the next course and curriculum. That’s unacceptable according to Principle 3. Competency education is about designing for the students who are not yet proficient to keep them on pace. It’s about creating the flexibility to provide more instructional time, more enriching experiences to help students understand the value of what they are learning. It’s about giving more attention to students who are not yet proficient – when they need it, not at the end of the semester.

Principle 1: Grades should clearly communicate what students know and are able to do in each class.
Practice 1: We report on student mastery of specific skills and concepts within a course (called “course standards”); traits like participation and effort are reported separately. (more…)

The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Honors in Our Competency-Based System

February 18, 2014 by

 

The Need For Change: Brian’s Uh-huh! Momenthonors

I was watching a cooking competition on the Food Network the other day. The contestants were asked to create the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich for a panel of judges to sample. The judges then assessed the sandwiches on a variety of characteristics including overall taste, texture, presentation, and what they called a “wow factor” that included the use of unique ingredients.

This competition really got me thinking. Brady and Cameron, my 8- and 6-year-old sons, and I make grilled cheese sandwiches all the time. Through trial and error, we have learned what works and what doesn’t. Some of our discoveries have included what kinds of cheeses melt best, how much butter to use to get a crispy crust, what kinds of breads produce the best flavors, and how hot to make our pan to get the right sandwich. We’ve made plenty of mediocre sandwiches along the way – overcooked or undercooked, not enough cheese, not enough butter, soggy, or just too dry. Still, even the mediocre sandwiches satisfied our hunger at that moment. (more…)

Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education

January 15, 2014 by

CompetencyWorks - Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education - January 2014iNACOL and CompetencyWorks are releasing Progress and Proficiency: Redesigning Grading for Competency Education today. Every school at some point will find that they are stumbling over traditional grading systems. This paper is designed to help you as your district or school prepares to create grading practices that reinforce the culture of learning.

If you want to get the big picture – Carve out an hour and dive into the full paper with sections on why today’s grading is undermining learning and school performance, the major elements of how districts and schools are designing new grading systems, insights into implementation as well as emerging issues.

If you want to cut to the chase and learn about the major elements of designing grading for competency-based schools read the Executive Summary.

If you want to see examples of how districts and schools are designing their grading policies, check out the wiki.

And, if you want to hear from principals and teachers about their experiences in grading, check out some blog posts and video resources:

We welcome your comments — especially if it differs from the ideas presented in the paper. We need to continue to push each other to find even better ways to support our students. We are also looking for folks who want to help us respond to other questions as they emerge, share their stories and insights of implementing new grading practices, and help us address many of the misconceptions and fears about competency education and its grading practices. This includes students — we’d love to hear about their experiences in moving from A-F grading to practices used in competency-based schools.

Deadlines Matter: Debunking the Myth That Standards-Based Grading Means No Deadlines

January 6, 2014 by

deadline image

I have a very compassionate boss. I spent several weeks working on my school’s budget for the upcoming year and I had been sending her updates on my progress throughout. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, though, that on the week that the budget was due my high school had a series of unexpected student issues that consumed most of my time and resources. As important as that budget due date was, I knew I just wasn’t going to make the deadline. As much as I hated to admit defeat, I made the call to her on Friday afternoon to ask for an extension (or at the very least, forgiveness). She was quick to respond to me with this: “Brian, I know it has been a tough week for you. I know through our check-in meetings over the past few weeks that you have been actively working on it. It is ok if you need a little bit more time. Could you have it to me by the middle of next week?” As she uttered those words I could feel the weight of the world lifting off of my shoulders. “Of course I could, thank you for your flexibility!”

What happened between my boss and I that day happens in all aspects of our lives as adults. It is normal behavior to expect that every once in a while people are going to miss a deadline. In the classroom, we as teachers know that students will miss deadlines from time to time. When they do, we do what any normal teacher would do—we become compassionate and flexible. Just like in real life with adults, we only start to worry about the behavior of missing deadlines when it goes from once in a while to chronic. (more…)

Is Mastery a 3 or a 4 or Something Far Beyond That?

December 17, 2013 by
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Grant Wiggins

We hear the critique of competency education occasionally as a linear, rigid, boring process of students learning and testing, learning and testing. We also hear the concern about classroom instruction and software products that declare students proficient because they have done recall or basic skills. Certainly, we know that schools across the country are challenged by the higher expectations of the Common Core to upgrade instruction and assessments so that students can actually engage in learning at higher levels of learning (or some would say deeper).

In the EL essay How Good is Good Enough, Grant Wiggins takes on these issues, calling for us to “recalibrate” our understanding of mastery so that we can ensure students can apply the whole concept and not just the “bits.”

In the essay, Grant Wiggins proposes this definition of mastery: Mastery is the effective transfer of learning into an authentic and worthy performance. Students have mastered a subject when they are fluent, even creative, in using their knowledge, skills, and understanding in key performance challenges and contexts at the heart of that subject, as measured against valid and high standards.

But of course standards can vary. Wiggins argues that we must recalibrate our schools to external standards. He goes as far as to say that schools that don’t are not standards-based. That’s a big challenge to schools around the country saying that they are doing standards-referenced or standards-based grading. (more…)

How Competency Based Grading Has NOT Changed Our School’s Transcript

December 13, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 7.49.30 AMMy school district implemented a K-12 competency-based grading and reporting system four years ago. The implementation included the adoption of a set of common competency-based grading practices that all teachers use in their classrooms and competency-based report cards that measure student progress toward mastery of course-based competencies. As the building principal, one of the most common questions that I am asked by students, parents, and even administrators from other schools who are considering this model for their school, is how our transcript has changed. They are surprised to learn, in fact, that little has changed about our transcript.

The purpose of our high school transcript, just like any other high school transcript, is to provide a final record of a student’s performance at our school. Our transcript lists each course a student took, their final course grade, and how many credits the student earned. Other information, such as:  Class Rank; Grade Point Average (weighted or non-weighted); Attendance Information, and Diploma Type are optional features that can also be printed on a transcript as needed.

Our transcript explains to the reader what the final grades of E (Exceeding), M (Meeting), IP (In-Progress), and LP (Limited Progress) mean. It also explains what it means for a student to get a code of NYC (Not Yet Competent) or IWS (Insufficient Work Shown), both of which result in no credit awarded for the course.

Our school has identified six school-wide 21st century learning expectations. These include a student’s ability to effectively communicate, creatively solve problems, responsibly use information, self-manage their learning, produce quality work, and contribute to their community. Since each teacher in each course at my school assesses students on these expectations, the transcript provides a summary of these grades so the reader can see a student’s progress in mastering them over the course of their high school career. (more…)

Getting Up to Speed on Grading

December 11, 2013 by
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Susan McCray, a Humanities Teacher at Casco Bay High School, talks with a student

We are getting ready to release a paper on competency-based grading in January. In the meantime, I know that lots of districts and schools are trying to figure out how to revise their grading system. There is a lot written on the topic but nothing like a video to help spark discussion and give you ideas about how to communicate the need for redesigning grading. So here are some of my favorites. You can also find examples of grading systems from four different school models at the Competencyworks wiki.

The Problem with the A-F Grading Scheme: Doug Reeves talks about zeros and the relationship to disciplinary issues, trending rather than averaging, late work and getting the work done, and teaching children resilience in Toxic Grading Practices. My favorite quote: How many have heard these words from a student: Just give me the zero. The operative word being “give.” Because they’re used to simply getting by and maybe a little smiley face will get them a D or something. No. You want to do something really scary? Get the work done. And I’m quoting this one young man now because his words were so persuasive to me: “It is such a hassle in this school man. You try to turn in this stuff in and she gives it back to you. You miss it, she makes you do it again. You can’t even get a D. It’s such a hassle in this school, man, to get a C. You might as well get a B.” Whereupon we have the wonderful spectacle of whining adolescents belly-aching all the way to the honor roll.  (Go to 5:27 – 6:06.)

Standards-Based Grading: There are books and books and lots of articles written about standards-based grading, but there are limited video resources.

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