So, I've mentioned that I will be teaching sixth grade social studies this coming school year (Read about it here, here, and here). While I am still preparing to unveil the topics and structure of the class, I am ready to talk briefly about grading.
In the past, I mean the distant past, when I last taught seventh grade social studies, I used a pretty traditional point system for grading. Every assignment was worth points, and students could earn points by getting work in on time, by completing it at all, by following a scoring guide or rubric. Wrapped up in all this was the idea that the grade could show both learning and all sorts of habits (completion, participation, effort, etc.) While I made a big deal about everyone starting off with 100% to encourage a positive start, I took points off for late papers and gave zeros for missed assingments. I rationalized that I gave the students every opportunity to get a good grade.
Now, I've got to practice what I've been preaching since I've left the classroom (I wrote about grading here and here). First to go, the zero. Gone. Not going to give one. Next out is points for every assignment.
Here's how it will work, a new system that I just created. I will call it Standards Based Grading (Full disclosure: I did not create this at all). For this year, I will be using the Vermont Grade Expectations for 5/6 Social Studies and the Common Core State Standards for Reading in Social Studies. I will identify one or more of the standards for every assignment. Then, the PowerTeacher gradebook will allow me to assign a score for each standard used in that assignment. I will report much more about PowerTeacher grade book after I've used it for a while.
Some questions that I still have to answer.
- Should the term grade be based on an average of standards, the last assessment of that standard or the last three?
- What do I do about missing work (more about a school wide initiative later)?
- How will I account for compliance reporting (homework, participation, etc.)?
- What are the other pitfalls?