## Monday, May 23, 2011

### What does the grade say?

The following workshop is based on an activity used in a class for preservice elementary math teachers. The original intent of the activity was to reinforce measures of centers while considering philosophical issues associated with grading. It has been updated to reflect my current understandings about teaching and learning and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Grade 6 CCSS in Statistics and Probability [6.SP]
Develop understanding of statistical variability.
Understand that a set of data collected to answer a statistical question has a distribution which can be described by its center, spread, and overall shape.

Schema Activation:  Journal Jot
What does an A grade communicate?
What does a B grade communicate?
What does a C grade communicate?
What does an F grade communicate?

Focus: Use the statistics that we have explored so far (mean, median, mode, and range) to describe the learners’ scores provided below.

Activity:  Small Group

Math Scores (Each project is out of 20)

 Name One Two Three Four Five Anita 15 15 15 15 15 Ben 6 9 20 20 20 Charlie 20 20 15 10 10 Dale 13 14 15 16 17

Reflection: Think-Pair-Share
• Based on your analysis of the scores and your responses to the Journal Jot, assign a math grade for each learner.
• Please provide some insight into how you assigned these grades and what you hope they communicate.
• Historically, teachers have used the mean of a set of scores to assign grades. Do you think this is an appropriate strategy in this case? Why or why not?
• In general, why do you think teachers typically average scores to determine grades?

Exit Ticket: Now what grade do you think each learner earned and why?

1. Hi,

So what is your philosophy for the Exit Ticket question? And how does your philosophy compare to your students' philosophies? And how do you reconcile them?
Bret

2. Bret,
Interesting questions...

First, my goal for the exit ticket is to give the preservice teachers an opportunity to rethink their grading. Many use an averaging approach only because that is all they know and this experience gets them to dig deeper for a rationale. That is not to say that they change their grade - these things are hard to get at.

As for questions 2 & 3, this activity comes fairly early in the semester. There are opportunities throughout the course to revisit this issue. I am not sure I ever try to reconcile our philosophies completely - heck, my philosophy is still evolving. I just want them to be more aware of their assessment and evaluation process - not just falling back on tradition.

I hope that gets at your questions.

3. Hi David,

Thanks for the response. You mostly answered my question, although I am curious as to what your current, still-evolving philosophy is at this moment. However, I suspect that you may not want to make this public, since that might make your work with the future teachers more difficult (they might try to give the "right" answer when you ask this question).

Thanks!
Bret