Monday, December 1, 2014

Conversation with my former self on grading

Bill (2014): Bill, I noticed your test averages are usually around 75%. Do you scale them up to that average?

Bill (2010): I do. I guess I figure the performance of the students should roughly follow a normal distribution with an average of 75.

Bill (2014): Why did you pick 75?

Bill (2010): I don't know. Isn't that the historical concept of average? And if it's normally distributed, then that would put the high at 100 and the low at 50, so I'm ensuring that the best students are challenged.

Bill (2014): OK, so the best students set the standard, and you are measuring the others relative to that. So you're really using the grade as a measure of their relative ability. Is that what you intend?

Bill (2010): Not really. I guess I'm trying to measure their mastery of chemistry, but also trying to ensure that I am setting the standard for mastery high enough.

Bill (2014): Why not decide what skills and concepts they really need to master, and then measure their mastery of them?

Bill (2010): Hmm... that would make sense.

Bill (2014): And why not shoot for 100% of your students mastering them. Why does it matter how they compare to each other?

Bill (2010): I see your point. But how do I ensure they are all challenged?

Bill (2014): Why not ditch the whole percentage grade thing and use a different sort of scale--one with "Mastery" at one level (and that's your goal) and something like "Extraordinary" at a higher level.

Bill (2010): So some students will just shoot for Extraordinary just for the sake of being Extraordinary?

Bill (2014): Sure. Wouldn't you?

No comments:

Post a Comment