Fix 12: Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment; use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real achievement or use “I” for Incomplete or Insufficient Evidence
Ok readers, here we go, the final few fixes. Ironically I feel a little like my students do this time of year, in that I’m ready to accept the zero in my final 3 or 4 tasks because I’m burnt out. Almost there though, close to the finish line and ready to finish strong.
Throughout the school year I try to give students progress reports every two or three weeks, and have “missing” as a placeholder if they forgot to hand an assignment in, or chose not to do it for whatever reason. I have two very different students in mind who, by June 22nd when our report cards were due, had nearly half of the terms assignments missing. I did not put any zero’s in; both students were made aware of the catch-up day on Monday, but I did not make it mandatory for either of them. I Both students took a final unit exam: one student got 50% on the test, the other got 80%. I am pretty confident that this is a realistic evaluation of how much both students understand of the subject. I left the holes in my marks books as holes and posted their grades based solely on this final test.
This particular class I’m describing is Science 10; my breakdown is 30% formative assessment (labs, assignments) and 70% summative (Chapter Quizzes and Unit Tests). I actually consulted the class, and we came up with this breakdown collaboratively. I describe what formative and summative mean to them, and that I want to help them learn as much as possible during instruction, then measure it at the end; that to me is the point of assessment. Many students want some credit for “practice” assignments, and realise that daily work will (usually) bring their mark up, and their level of understanding up. It’s interesting to me that they don’t see their mark being the same thing as their level of understanding. Additionally, many students feel anxiety around tests, and don’t feel it is fair to base the whole course on summative assessments. It was interesting for me to hear their opinions about assessment, and I try to be honest and responsive to their opinions so we can come up with a fair plan for everyone.
I’m curious now to run the numbers on my 80 and 50 percentage students, to see how much completing their missing assignments would affect their mark, and I can only speculate how much it would affect their level of understanding. The potential disconnect between these two is something I will definitely keep in mind as I plan for next year…