4 Point Scale



How Many Points is it Worth?


NCSS National Conference 2011


Cindy Martinez (cmartinez@slvusd.org)

Julie Salido (jsalido@slvusd.org)


What is it?

 

A grading system that more accurately shows what a student knows or can do.

 

Why implement it?

 

  • You want grades to mainly be evaluative of student ability, less of a punishment or reward (get over yourself – it’s not about you).

 

 

  • Student motivation – for those students who take a little longer to figure out that work is required to pass a class.  Why work if there is no chance of passing? They are less likely to give up if recovery is possible. The grade won’t be good. They may not move to the next level (math, foreign language) but they will spend the rest of the semester learning something and receiving credit for that work.

 

Givens:

 

1)    Grades should provide information on student learning for students, parents & teachers

 

2)    Grades should reflect achievement more than behavior.

 

Discoveries:

 

1)    Fewer F’s but also fewer A’s – keeps students motivated while knocking down grade inflation.

 

2)    Students and parents adjust easily to this system when provided with information

 

3)    Technology has been the biggest roadblock.

 

 

Are your grades:

 

1)    Reflective of learning/achievement?

 

2)    Informative to students, parents, teachers and colleges?

 

 

My Ideal vs. Reality Balance:

 

1)    I still use zeros but mine aren’t so heavily weighted & I use two kinds: .5/0 - .5 is for students who do the work but poorly. 0 is for no work turned in. This helps me start to identify the problem a student is having.

 

2)    I still give full credit for completion of small assignments. This is a behavior grade but I weigh it much lower than assessment grades. These are used more in sophomore classes.

 

3)    Still include presentation category in grade (see above).  I will hand back work that needs to be typed but I will give full credit if done within a day.

 

4)    I am not at standards grading yet – Roadblocks: student load, technology, time

 

Roadblocks &  (some) Solutions

 

1)    Evaluation for next level of study. “Students need a certain level of achievement to go to the next level.  What if this system doesn’t match up with what we have been doing?”

a.     Set the benchmark where it needs to be to show proficiency.  Figure out the grade that shows the proficiency needed to succeed at the next level.

 

2)    Tech issue.  “Our grading program doesn’t work with this system.  What do I do?”

 

a.     Decide that this is your fight.  Once you do, be a pest. Get administration on your side. Remind everyone, including IT, that technology is a tool to serve education and not the other way around. Technology is only as good as its ability to aid teaching and learning. There are work-arounds but they can be hard to figure out.  If you can’t fight this right now, wait until you can.

 

3)    Old School Resistance – “Will I be allowed to do this alone if no one else wants to?”

a.     If the answer is yes, know that kids and parents respond well when it is explained to them. Explain it the first week of school. Post a grade scale.  Explain it at back to school night. Keep form emails ready.  Use rubrics.

b.     If the answer is no, you have options.  Assign ½ credit (5/10, 50/100) as the lowest number of points possible for an assignment – even if nothing is turned in. It may seem wrong to “give” points for nothing but remember why.  F should be the same as all other grades. You are just evening it out. And it’s not about you.  It’s about fair and accurate assessment.  This doesn't address the other end of the scale but it's a start.

 

4)    Behavior vs. Performance grading:  We don’t have a perfect system such as one that allows for a behavior grade separate from a performance grade.  What to do?

 

a.     How to keep kids accountable:

                                               i.     Penalty for late work but always give some credit.  Remember your ultimate goal is to see what students can achieve. You can’t do that if they don’t turn in work. 

                                             ii.     Attendance issues need administrative support.  Grades should not reflect tardies.  Chronic absences need to be SARBed.

 

5)    High School Grade: college acceptance (or not) – What is currently expected by college to be represented in grades?  Will we hurt our students if other teachers/schools do/don’t do this i.e. lower grades, behavior issues?

 

a.     The ideal is great but we live in the real world.  This is something that you need to work out for yourself.  Know that I have not had one student tell me that they had trouble getting into college due to my grading system. 

 

6)    Public pressure for grade inflation – you need support or adjust as best you can.  Information works well.

 

Before you start this system, answer these:

 

1)    What do you think grades should reflect?

2)    Are you ready to let go of your older system and all that goes with it?

3)    Do you have the time and the energy to start something new?

4)    Would your school/district be supportive of a new grading system?

5)    Are you ready to fight to use this system if you are the trailblazer?

 

Implementation

 

1)    Know why you are doing this – if you can’t explain it to yourself, you can’t explain it to others.

 

2)    Start at the beginning of the semester. Insanity would result from mid-semester implementation.

 

3)    Develop rubrics – they should be weighted more towards performance and less towards behavior.

 

4)    Weighted categories – since everything is “worth” 4 points, you are going to need weighted categories. Think of the types of assignments you give every semester. Then decide how much weight you want to give each category. You may want to give each category the weight it would receive if each assignment in the category were given its old number of points.  Or you may decide to assign weight to a category based on importance.  I give assessment categories much more weight than practice categories. 

 

5)    Inform parents & students – have students write scale in their notebook cover, post on wall.

 

6)    Get a powerful person as an ally.

 

 Who is the stronger student?

 

Student X

 

Student Y

 

Essay

1

2

3

4

Grade

F

A

A

A

Essay

1

2

3

4

Grade

C

C

C

C

 

 

Old System:

 

Student X

 

Student Y

 

Essay

1

2

3

4

 

Total:

Grade:

Grade

0

100

100

100

 

300/400

C

Essay

1

2

3

4

 

Total:

Grade:

Grade

75

75

75

75

 

300/400

C

 

 

Both students assess the same.  For whatever reason, Student X did not turn in the first essay and, no matter how good the following essays are, Student X struggles to dig out of the hole. 

 

 


4 Point System

 

Student X

 

Student Y

 

Essay

1

2

3

4

 

Total:

Grade:

Grade

0

4

4

4

 

12

12/4 = 3=B

Essay

1

2

3

4

 

Total:

Grade:

Grade

2

2

2

2

 

8

8/4 = 2=C

 

 

Student X is still dealing with a penalty for a missing essay but the grade is a better reflection of the student’s ability.

 

 

Grade Scale 0-4:
reflects current grade point scale

 

4 = A+

3.7 = A

3.5 = A-

3.3 = B+

3 = B

2.8 = B-

2.5 = C+

2 = C

 

1.9 = C-

1.8 = D+

1.5 = D

1 = D-

.5 = F (poorly done)

0 = F (not turned in)

 

 

 

Sources Cited:

 

Book

Marzano, Robert J.  The Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2007.

 

Workshop series

O’Conner, Ken, 15 Fixes for Broken Grades. Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 2010-11

 

 


ĉ
Cindy Martinez,
Nov 27, 2011, 11:04 PM
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