Thursday, December 31, 2015

Is it time we stop 'averaging' grades?

What message are we sending to students when we average grades over a quarter or a semester?

This is definitely a hot topic question for those who are involved in work around grading and assessment.

What about the statement below?

'When we average grades over time, we are basically saying that our teaching doesn't have any impact on student learning.' via @leeannjung

That's a pretty powerful and bold statement!

Also, consider this image of seven students and their performance over a period of time:

Do we really feel each student is at the same place in regard to their learning?

Do we really feel each student is receiving a grade that most accurately reflects their current level of mastery?

image via @tguskey

Next, consider the football team in preparation for the game on Friday night (thanks for this great example @mctownsley...)

Team A: Works extremely hard all week at practice and has done everything possible to prepare for the game on Friday night.

Team B: Takes it easy at practice all week and really didn't put forth a lot of commitment to prepare for the game on Friday night.

The reality is that both teams will start the game on Friday night with zero points. The team that worked hard doesn't get an advantage from the start and the team that didn't work hard doesn't start off with a disadvantage. Grades are about what kids know at that given point in time... same thing as on the football field.

Last thought... do we really want the initial learning students do in the beginning (when the skills and/or content are brand new) to affect a student's grade later on down the road? Should students be able to escape the mistakes and roadblocks they faced in the beginning or should these mistakes haunt them the entire grading period?

So, is it time to stop averaging grades?

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