Put On Your Creative Hat When Thinking About Proficiency-Based Grading

May 23, 2013 by

This is my best creative hat

Every day there seems to be one more webinar on grading. This is great that more information supporting competency education is becoming available. However, my concern is that they are not contextualized within a school culture or school-wide reform.

Earlier this week in a conversation, Rich DeLorenzo pointed that if one teacher uses proficiency-based grading and the teacher down the hall doesn’t, students, and possibly parents as well, are going to feel a real tension. One of the reasons is that in proficiency-based models we are willing to have the hard conversations “I know Bobby is in 4th grade but he still is reading at 2nd grade level”.  That conversation isn’t likely to come up in traditional grading as long as Bobby does his homework, attends school regularly, and demonstrates “good” behavior in  class.  DeLorenzo emphasized “When we eliminate the bell curve we change the goal of education and the pedagogy.”  Is the principal ready to support both kinds of educational models — one focused on making sure that students learn and the other that student do what is expected by the teacher?

When we eliminate the bell curve we change the goal of education and the pedagogy.

Grading, as it is so deeply related to assessment, is going to be one of the big things to change in a school.  However, it needs to be part of a school-wide change.   Grading isn’t a stand-alone practice – personalized classroom management strategies, student voice and choice, adaptive instruction, and transparency are all parts of  redesigning core operations of schools.

So tune in — but put your best analytic and creative hat on while you are listening. If you want to do move foward on proficiency-based grading, ask yourself what are the other changes that are going to need to happen in your school?

Webinars on Grading Past and Present

TodayProficiency Scales for the Common Core, Marzano Research Laboratory, May 23, 2013 | 4:00 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, May 29, 2013: League of Innovative School Webinar on Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified: Best Practices in Grading and Reporting  | 3:00–4:00 PM EST. Register here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013: Standards-Based Grading and Assessing Student Mastery of Content. REL-NEI’s Northeast College and Career Readiness Research Alliance hosts this Bridge Webinar with Dr. Thomas Guskey to explore emergent research on proficiency-based leraning and graduation requirements, a new approach to assessing student learning and reporting on student progress.|  12:30–2:00 p.m. ET Register here.


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1 Comment »

  1. Comment by Bill Zima 9:03 pm, May 24, 2013

    I have experienced the frustration of wanting to reform our school only to get bogged down n the “grading debate”. What I learned was it is less about how we report grades and more on how we assess and instruct. Once teachers and parents know we are assessing for the purpose of gathering evidence to determine if the learner is proficient on a specific learning outcome, parents will want to know how they did on specific learning outcomes and the reporting will change.

    I just had the conversation today and the parent left realizing she wants more then a letter grade or a percentage to truly know how her daughter is doing. As I have said before, Rich is right.

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