Grades FAQ

This blog post is directed at a wide audience: my students, their parents, and teachers.

Prologue
To my students: I hope this provides a clear picture of how you can succeed in my class, as far as assessments are concerned. I realized from conferences that some students didn't truly understand the system 2/3 of the way into the year.

Also, your chance of success improves when you....ask questions, start class quickly (estimation or WODB), participate, stay on topic, study the previous week's assessment, complete some homework if you plan to retake an assessment, and come to the homework center when I'm there having questions ready to ask.

To parents: I did a brief overview of the system at back to school night but it is much different than grading systems you may have seen before, so I hope this helps you see how you can check on your child's progress and what you can ask them about. Also, you should be able to find the types of problems I'm assessing students on.

To math teachers: I'd love any input on my system, suggestions, anything at all. I'd also like to my assessment questions to ramp up for a skill and cover as much of the standards as possible and still be accessible.

Background Info
The change in my grading system was prompted for many reasons. The most important reason I believe was that a grade on a chapter 4 test only told me what they understood overall of concepts from a chapter, but not any specific feedback on individual topics or concepts. Over the summer I read posts by Kyle Pearce and Jon Orr which lead me to reading about Dan Meyer's "SBG" (skills based grading or concept based grading) at his blog.

How It Works
Basically week 1 you were assessed on skills 1, 2, and 3. Skills 1 and 2 were prerequisite skills (concepts you were expected to learn from last year) and skill 3 was the first content we covered in class. This happens every week on Friday in the last 15 minutes of class with students having privacy folders up. I also pre-modify assessments for some students with 504's and/or IEP's. I grade them over the weekend and usually get it back to students Tuesday or Thursday when I go over how it was graded, common mistakes, and the answers.

The next week, skill 1 is off the test, and skills 2, 3, and 4 are on the test. After this test, skills 1 and 2 are "permanent" in the grade book, because next week will have skills 2, 3, and 4.

Retake Policy
I put permanent in quotes because it's the last chance you will be assessed in class on it. You can correct your mistakes, review them with me, and schedule a retake. Homework has been worth 0% this year, but I require some evidence of homework done or practice on the skill to qualify for the retake. These can be scheduled during homework center in our school's library Monday or Tuesday, or by appointment Thursday or Friday.

What are the assessments worth?

Assessments are worth 50% of the overall grade. I use the most current score, and do not take averages of previous assessments to award growth and current understanding. I also do not believe it should be a speed test, so students may come back later and finish it, if they choose to. They have more than enough time to complete the first skill, and if are proficient can complete all 3 in 15 minutes.

10% of the grade is based on a trimester final that takes the whole class period and is comprised of a majority of the concepts from 1/3 of the school year.

What are students assessed on? (everything except

Grade 8 students have been assessed on the following concepts:

1
Adding and subtracting like and unlike fractions
2
Graphing points in coordinate plane
3
Percent error
4
Proportional relationships
5
Simplifying expressions and algebra tiles
6
Expression Comparison Mat
7
Solving Equations
8
Interpret Data and Graph Results
9
Graph a Rule from a Table
10
Solving Equations (one, no, or any solution)
11
Write a rule from a table or graph
12
4 representations of y=mx+b
13
Standard->y=mx+b & fraction busters equations
14
Graph system of equations & solve using “equal values”
15
Rigid Transformations coordinate plane
16
Transformations - Analyzing Coordinates
17
Scale Factor & missing sides
18
Scatterplot & Interpret
19
Identify Slope & Use to graph equation
20
Scientific Notations & operations
21
Multiplying and Dividing Power Numbers
22
Identify if a Relation is a Function & explain
23
Transversals and angle relationships
Accelerated students (finishing up CC 8, and all of Common Core Algebra I) have learned these concepts:

1
Evaluate absolute value expressions
2
Solve linear equations and interpret solution
3
Order of operations with exponents
4
Square root and cube root expressions
5
Graph a quadratic, cubic, or absolute value function
6
Graph equation in y=mx+b with fractional slope
7
Write equation given slope and a point, or 2 points
8
Scatterplot & equations of lines of best fit
9
Multiplying and dividing power numbers
10
Determine type of triangle and solve missing sides of right triangles
11
Multiply binomials using distributive property or generic rectangle
12
Solve absolute value equations & standard to y=mx+b form
13
Systems of equations & coin problem
14
Arithmetic & geometric sequences
15
Interpret Least Squares Regression Line (residuals & correlation coefficient)
16
Write an exponential equation from a situation where car is appreciating / depreciating
17
Write an exponential equation from a graph
18
Simplify Fractional Exponents
19
Factor Quadratics
20
Graph a fully labeled quadratic equation
21
Write an exponential equation given 2 points
22
Solve a quadratic by completing the square and using quadratic equation
23
Solve a linear inequality, interpret the solution(s) if any, and graph the solution(s)

What do the assessments and questions look like (would love input here)?

Common Core 8:


Accelerated CC 8 / Algebra I:

These are not all of the assessments, but it offers a glance at an example of 1 of each. I also have a bank of retakes that are similar to the questions.

Reflection

2/3 of the way through the year, I am happier with this system then the last one. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros:
  • students get weekly assessment feedback
  • I am assessing my students more often, so know what they understand more frequently
  • students can retake assessments, therefore it's not when they learn it, it's if they learn it
  • Students are not graded on correctness, completion, or understanding of homework, it's practice
Cons:
  • grading every weekend and Monday night
  • I am assessing my students more often, so know what they understand more frequently
  • students can retake assessments, therefore it's not when they learn it, it's if they learn it
  • students are not prepared for the workload of next year's teacher that I anticipate them having
  • they may not have a chance to be assessed like this again, right when they get used to it

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