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					Chapter 13. Grades:
Inflation, Deflation, Consternation
 Assigning grades is one of the most important things
a teacher does and nothing is taken more personally
than challenging a
teacher‟s grading
practices.
 So, as a teacher, you
need to develop finesse
in grading and in
communicating your
grading scheme so you
emerge as professional
and fair to both students and parents.
                                                         1
Grading and Reporting Topics
 Purposes of Grades
 Rationales for Assigning Grades
 Coding Systems
 Combining Information
 Grades for Nonacademic Areas
 Report Cards
 Reporting to Parents
 Legal Considerations

                                    2
Primary Purpose of Grades

Officially - “The primary purpose of . . grades . .
. (is) to communicate student achievement to
students, parents, school administrators, post-
secondary institutions and employers.” - from Bailey,
J. and McTighe, J., “Reporting Achievement at the Secondary School
Level: What and How?”, in Thomas R. Guskey, (Ed.) Communicating
Student Learning: ASCD Yearbook 1996, ASCD, Alexandria, VA, 1996

Some would argue that grades also serve to motivate
student learning. We will discuss that later. For now,
let‟s look at the various grading approaches and
systems currently in vogue.
                                                                     3
Assessment Concepts in the Grading Process

 Assessment starts with the STANDARD.
      Reliability - Accuracy and Consistency
      Validity - Meaningfulness and Appropriateness
 Formative Assessment - Data collected from pre-
  assessments, homework, practice, and learning tasks
  to determine future instruction. Data collected here is
  not put in grade book.
 Summative Assessment - Data collected to
  determine level of mastery. It is data collected here
  that is used in the grading system.
                                                          4
Steps in Grading Process




                           5
The “Combined” and “Translated” Process

This part is not as
obvious as you
might think. The
way you choose to
combine/translate
separate scores
into one grade is
one of the most
important
decisions you will
make. You may
literally hold the
student‟s future in
your hands based
on your decisions.
                                          6
Rationales for Assigning Grades
 Relative to fixed standard
    Pro – focus on achievement (e.g., 90%); often mandated by
     state or by school district policy
    Con – the “standard” is really an opinion
 Relative to group performance
    Pro – real world orientation; always clear to determine
    Con – grade depends on others, who is the relevant group
 Relative to ability, effort, or as a personal improvement
    Pro – focus is on the student; often used by teachers “who
     care” about their students
    Con – not recommend by experts as these make any
     conclusions about learning murky to others

                                                                  7
So . . .
Which Grading Practice Will You Follow?

“ . . . (grading) practices are not the result of careful
thought or sound evidence, . . . rather, they are used
because teachers experienced these practices as
students and, having little training or experience with
other options, continue their use.” - Guskey, Thomas R.
(Editor), Communicating Student Learning: The 1996 ASCD Yearbook,
ASCD, Alexandria, VA, 1996, 20


“DENIAL AIN‟T JUST A RIVER IN EGYPT.” MARK TWAIN


But Let‟s Forge Ahead Anyway . . .
                                                                    8
Coding Systems: The Actual Grades
 Optional coding systems:
      Letter grades
      Percentage grades
      Checklists
      Narrative reports
 BUT . . . The letter grade is the most widely
  used coding system. It is even used even
  used in the general culture (“A” list actors, “A”
  number 1 used car, etc.). So let‟s focus here.

                                                  9
Grades for Nonacademic Areas:
. . . Sample Areas and Coding Systems




                                        10
Examples of . . .
Different Grading Systems
 Five-point system - Most high schools a five-point system. Numerical
   values are applied to grades as follows:
       A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F=0


 Thirteen-point system - A few high schools in the United States use a
   thirteen-point system. Numerical values are applied to grades as
   follows:
       A+ = 4.33, A = 4.0, A− = 3.57, B+ = 3.33, B = 3.0, B− = 2.67, C+ = 2.33,
       C = 2.0, C− = 1.67, D+ = 1.33, D = 1,0 D− = .67, F = 0.0


 Grade-rationing system – Grade-rationing is a euphemism for rank-
   based grading and is popular approach among some educators. The
   arguments for grade-rationing are that grade inflation represents a
   serious problem in education, that can only be counteracted by the
   enforcement of rank-based standards. (see next slide)

                                                                                   11
Some say grading should model the real world . . .
Leadership! Competition!
 Since many large companies and corporations used rank-based
  evaluation measures (referred to as “rank-and-yank” or “up-or-out”'
  approaches to evaluations), ranked-based grading prepares students
  for the real world situation. Students learn to compete academically
  with peers who will later be their competitors in the job market.
 A vitality curve is a leadership construct, assigning credit with certain
  proportions of the production to proportions of a producing population.
  For example, there is an often cited "20/80 rule“ or the Law of the Vital
  Few. This “law” posits that the top 20% of criminals commit 80% of the
  crimes, the top 20% of academics produce 80% of useful results, and
  so on. The concept of a "vitality curve" has been used to justify the
  "rank-and-yank" system of performance management, whereby the
  bottom ranking 10% of workers are fired at each evaluation.




                                                                          12
But others have a different real world model . . .
Leadership! Competition!
 Rank-based performance evaluations (in education and
  employment) foster cutthroat and unethical behavior.
 Rank-and-yank contrasts with the management philosophies of
  W. Edwards Deming. Deming‟s influence in Japan has been
  credited with Japan's world leadership in many industries,
  particularly the automotive industry. While rank-and-yank puts
  success or failure of the organization on the shoulders of the
  individual worker, Deming stresses the need to understand
  organizational performance as fundamentally a function of the
  corporate systems and processes created by management.
  Workers need to feel valued, supported and part of a team doing
  important work. He sees “so-called” performance evaluation,
  annual review of performance, and merit-based evaluation as
  misguided and destructive. (see next slide)
                                                               13
William Edwards Deming
(1900-1993)
"The worker is not the problem. The problem
is at the top! Management!“

“It is management‟s job to direct the efforts of
all components toward the aim of the system.
Everyone must understand the damage and
loss to the whole organization from a team
that seeks to become a selfish, independent,
profit centre.“

Deming taught top management how to
improve design, service, product quality,
testing and sales through various methods,
including the application of statistical methods.

                                                    14
By the way . . .
More on Grade Inflation

Grade inflation is not new. Consider the
following quote about lax standards from a
Harvard University report in 1894:

"Grades A and B are sometimes given too
readily . . . insincere students gain passable
grades by sham work."




                                                 15
Sample Report Card
. . . Using percentages with verbal descriptors & nonacademic grades




                                                                       16
Another Sample Report Card
. . . Using letter grades and verbal descriptors; nonacademic grades
unreported




                                                                       17
Weighted GPA
because . . . all courses are not equal

 Some high schools, to reflect the varying skill required for different level
   courses and to discourage students from selecting easy 'A's, will give
   higher numerical grades for difficult courses, often referred to as a
   weighted GPA. For example, two common conversion systems used in
   honors and advanced placement courses are:
       A = 5 or 4.6
       B = 4 or 3.5
       C = 3 or 2.1
       D=1
       F=0
 Another policy commonly used by 4.0-scale schools is to mimic the
   eleven-point weighted scale (see below) by adding a .33 (one third of a
   letter grade) to an honors or advanced placement class. (For example,
   a B in a regular class would be a 3.0, but in an honors or AP class it
   would become a B+, or 3.33).

                                                                            18
Communicating Grades and Scores to Parents / Guardians
. . . Face to Face, Part I.
BEFORE THE SHOW BEGINS
 Be organized. Have a folder containing the student‟s grades, examples
   of work, standardized test scores, behavior notes.
 Know this material. Know the grading system; know how to read the
   standardized score report; know the nature of norm group(s) used.
 Know the potential incongruence among the grades, test scores and
   behavior evidence found in the folder and be ready to discuss them.
 Have an agenda. Example: Point out strengths (grades & test scores),
   suggest areas for improvement (grades & test scores, comment on
   behavior (never begin with behavior – especially if it is a concern),
   solicit questions, close with a look to the future.

                                                                           19
Communicating Grades and Scores to Parents / Guardians
. . . Face to Face. Part II.
SHOWTIME:
 Be honest. Don‟t sugarcoat. Don‟t go beyond your competence in
answering a question. Say you will get back to them.
 Be professional. Don‟t dismiss or prejudge any result as unimportant.
Any result is important to the parent.
 Be calm. Don‟t be surprised if your assessment differs from the
parents; students may be behave differently at home and in the classroom.
 Be geared up with specific suggestions for the parents on how they
might help improve the performance of their student.
 Be confidential. Do not refer to any other student‟s performance.
 Be ready. Know who to call if you encounter an obnoxious parent .
 Be upbeat. Close on a vision to a positive future.

                                                                          20
Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

“The real voyage of
discovery consists not of
seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”

Proust suffered from asthma
beginning at age 9. In that era
the illness was considered a
„nervous‟ disorder associated
with upper class individuals in
sedentary employment.


                                  21
A New View . . . .
From: Formative Assessment to Assessment FOR Learning: A Path to
Success in Standards-Based Schools – Rick Stiggins

summative assessment . . . has referred to tests
  administered after learning is supposed to have
  occurred to determine whether it did.
                    (assessment OF learning)

formative assessment . . . has been the label used for
   assessments conducted during learning to promote,
   not merely judge or grade, student success.
                    (assessment FOR learning)




                                                                   22
A New View continued . . . .
From: Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall and Wiliam, “Working Inside the
Black Box”, PHI DELTA KAPPAN, September 2004; 15

“Some have argued that formative and
summative assessments are so different in their
purpose that they must be kept apart . . .
However, it is unrealistic to expect teachers and
students to practice such separation, so the
challenge is to achieve a more positive
relationship between the two.”




                                                                       23
Ongoing Assessments

“The ongoing interplay between assessment and instruction,
so common in the arts and athletics, is also evident in
classrooms using practices such as nongraded quizzes and
practice tests, the writing process, formative performance
tasks, review of drafts and peer response groups. The teachers
in such classrooms recognize that ongoing assessments
provide feedback that enhances instruction and guides student
revision.”
Jay McTighe, “What Happens Between Assessments,” Educational Leadership,
Dec. „96-Jan. „97, 11



                                                                           24
Myths from Myron Dueck
 Fear of failure is a strong motivation to do well.
   . . . only motivates the students already not failing!
 Giving students a second chance is soft.
   . . . life is full of do-overs
 The punishment paradigm keeps students going.
   . . . more likely to quit!
 Students who are unsuccessful didn‟t try.
   . . . “can’t” do vs. “won’t” do
Everything we do in our classrooms/schools should build
confidence and reduce anxiety, stress, and confusion.
                                                            25
Stop the following practices:
. . .from O‟ Connor, K. 2007. A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for
Broken Grades

 Grading homework.
     Don‟t use information from practices to determine grades. Perhaps
      your directions were unclear. Feedback (immediate) matters and
      this occurs when you see the homework. Also, whose work are you
      seeing? Grade the games, not the practices.
 Reducing scores for late work.
    Some students predictably struggle with deadlines. Deadlines keep
      students organized. Right/Late vs. Wrong/On-Time. Behavior vs.
      Learning
 Using “0” for work not handed in.
    Assigning a “0” for work not yet handed in is arbitrary and
      mathematically invalid. Zeros reflect what a student has not done,
      not what a student knows.



                                                                       26
The Threat of a Zero
(from Thomas Gusky, “0 Alternatives”, Principal Leadership, October
2004; 5, 2)

 “The threat of a zero – and the resulting low grade
  – allows teachers to impose their will on students
  who might otherwise be indifferent to a teacher‟s
  demand.”
 “Some teachers recognize that assigning zeros
  punishes students academically for behavioral
  infractions; nevertheless, most believe that such
  punishment is justified and deserved.”


                                                                      27
Averaging Grades, rethought

 Did you hear about the statistician who drowned while
  wading across a river with an average depth of three feet?
 The key question is, “What information provides the most
  accurate depiction of students‟ learning at this time?” In
  nearly all cases, the answer is “the most current
  information.” If students demonstrate that past assessment
  information no longer accurately reflects their learning,
  that information must be dropped and replaced by the new
  information. Continuing to rely on past assessment data
  miscommunicates students‟ learning. - Guskey, Thomas R.
  (Editor), Communicating Student Learning: The 1996
  ASCD Yearbook, ASCD, Alexandria, VA, 1996, 21
                                                           28
More on averaging grades

 “ . . . final grades should never be determined by simply
  averaging the grades from several grading periods (e.g.,
  adding the grades from terms one through three and
  dividing by three).” (exception - discrete
  standards/content) - O‟Connor, K., How to Grade for
  Learning: Linking Grades to Standards, Second Edition,
  Corwin, 2002, 135
 “Educators must abandon the average, or arithmetic mean,
  as the predominant measurement of student achievement.”
  - Reeves, D., “Standards are Not Enough: Essential
  Transformations for School Success,” NASSP Bulletin,
  Dec. 2000, 10
                                                              29
And more on combining grades . . .

 Effect of Variability on Weights
      The most variable element will have greatest weight in
       determining the grade, not the element with the highest
       numerical value.


 Regression to mean
      The composite formed by adding grades together will
       show less variability than the grade ranges of the
       subscores used to create it.



                                                             30
Legal Considerations

 It is your responsibility to keep accurate records. Issues: hard
  copy and electronic grade books; security.
 LEGISLATION - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
  (FERPA) – Two main points:
    Parents have a right to see grading and test score
     information for their children.
    Schools may not reveal grades and scores to a third part
     without the individual‟s consent.
 COURTS - Two main points:
    Deference is given to the educator‟s judgment, as long as
    Grades are assigned in an even-handed, rational manner.
 SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION - a surprise, perhaps:
    Final authority for grades is the school administration. In
     rare circumstances an administrator may change a grade
     and has the legal responsible to do so.
                                                                     31
Practical Advice
1.   First, have a reasonable and fair assessment plan.
2.   Check for school policies on grading; if school has
     policy, study it carefully.
3.   Learn to use an electronic spreadsheet or purchase
     a “Teacher Gradebook” program (some schools
     have a centralized system).
4.   Consider creatively combining formative and
     summative assessment.
5.   Review suggestions for parent-teacher conference.
6.   Use various sources to provide feedback to parents
     and to solicit their help.
                                                       32
  Terms Concepts to Review and
      Study on Your Own
 checklist grading
 FERPA
 grade book
 grading
 narrative report
 parent-teacher conference
 regression to the mean
 spreadsheet

                                 33

				
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