A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another Question: What Practices Are Reinforced by Practice?

If you read through the slides about Ken O'Connor's ideas (see previous post for link) about how to fix "broken" grading systems, you might have noticed that one of the things that is suggested is that grades be based primarily upon "summative" scores (read performance events, such as tests and essays and the like for those of us in the core subjects) rather than "formative" scores (which basically means homework).

So about what is the percentage weight you assign to homework, and what is the percentage weight you assign to quizzes, tests, and the like in determining your overall grade?

Let's discuss.

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At 4/26/09, 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My school, math, 60% tests, 10% participation, 30% homework.

At 4/26/09, 8:29 PM, Blogger Miss Eyre said...

I have three "levels" of assignments in my class, inspired by Madeline Hunter's Mastery Teaching.

Level 1 (20% of grade): single-night homework assignments, single-class-period classwork

Level 2 (30% of grade): quizzes and lengthy homework assignments that don't rise to the level of "project"

Level 3 (50% of grade): tests; also projects and major writing assignments that take 2+ weeks to complete.

At 4/26/09, 9:23 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

25% Quizzes & Tests
25% Projects & Reports
25% Classwork & Participation
25% Homework & Organization

I am curious what it might be like to switch to only grading the first two (quizzes, projects). This would be more representative of what the student learns. However, as a math teacher I know frequent practice (classwork, homework) is essential to understanding and becoming good at many math skills. And if homework were not graded, I fear most students would not do it, and therefore do more poorly on their quizzes and projects which require application of those skills. Even faced with this fact of not doing as well, they still would not see the connection to the (non-graded) homework. So I feel like I have to grade homework to ensure it gets done and that brings student knowledge and skills to a higher level.

At 4/26/09, 9:26 PM, Blogger Val said...

I teach 8th grade LA, and at my school, daily grades are 50%, tests 35%, and the 6 week exam 15%.
Daily grades covers HW, in-class stuff, and I usually group a weeks worth of participation as one daily grade. Weekly vocab quizzes I count as two daily grades.
I think there has to be a balance in both types of assessment, even though this system isn't perfect either. Bad test-takers are punished, and slackers who goof off all 6 weeks and then make 100's on the tests are rewarded (to an extent). I'm interested in seeing how others deal with these issues.

At 4/26/09, 10:36 PM, Blogger Dragon Lady said...

my district requires the following scoring at the high school level:

Academic classes-
60% summative
40% formative
AP Classes-
70% summative
30% formative
Inclusion classes-
percentages vary for individual student based on their SpEd I.E.P.

The teachers have the fredom to decide what grades are considered summative and formative, but the summative grades have to be agreed on by the PLC for that subject and grade level. Every teacher in the PLC has to have the same summative assesments.

At 4/26/09, 11:36 PM, Blogger teachin' said...

We're 80/20 - 80% summative, and 20% formative. I like it. That way, the kids who get the material right away and don't need the practice and thus don't DO the practice, can still pass reasonably well, but the kids who also are hard workers get rewarded.

At 4/27/09, 9:23 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

For my regular sophomores, 15% of their grades is formative (homework, classwork activities, etc.); everything else is summative -- exams, essays, finals, etc.

For my APES, 10% is formative, but I've found I rarely grade summative stuff and they don't want me to -- they "get" the point of it -- that I end up with two or three grades in that category every semester.

This is fairly new practice for me in the last couple of years. I got tired of seeing the students who didn't need to do the formative stuff doing it all -- essentially wasting their time on busy work -- while the kids who needed it continued to blow it off. I'm trying to be more respectful of my bright students. Seems to be working out ok.

At 4/28/09, 5:44 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

You "rarely grade the summative stuff?" Does that mean you rarely grade tests and essays?

At 4/28/09, 9:26 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

Ooops... sorry... I wish! Rarely grade formative assignments. I just finished the English II EOC and am heading into the AP Lit... you might say I'm a little fried these days.

At 5/4/09, 5:41 PM, Blogger Mr. Duez said...

This is another stumbling block because of O'Connor's use of the words:

Many people assume that he is referring to Summative being - tests/projects/major grades. And Formative being homework/quizzes/daily class grades.

But, that is not the case. Summative would be ANY grade that is entered into the gradebook and "scored." Formative would be 'feedback' or 'practice' that would lead up to the summative score.

For example, Ken O'Connor believes that giving a student a quiz on material they "read" but never really worked on in class as a grade that wasn't fully 'practiced.' Meaning that it was work that students would have to learn on their own and had no feedback, guidance or opportunity to learn fully.

So, this is one change I have made for sure (and I still give homework) - I am sure to cover some of the homework questions, or at least the same kinds of questions, in class with my students before I would ever "score" or grade it. This gives kids feedback about how they did.

The theory revolves around the idea that students won't do the work if they think they CAN'T do the work. But, if they feel they have a chance to have some guidance with it first and they believe they will be successful, they are more likely to complete the homework when it is assigned.

Hope that isn't as clear as mud. Please let me know if you have any questions. I have been using AFL for about 1 year and have enjoyed my experiences with it immensely, although I will say - it took a lot of "practice" on my part and a lot of "feedback" from my students and parents. :)

At 5/4/09, 5:46 PM, Blogger Mr. Duez said...

BTW - I use 70% for Tests/Projects/Major essays and 30% for Homework/Quizzes

I call them Summative and Formative - because that's what the district template in the computer says. But, according to O'Connor any grade "scored" and in the gradebook is Summative (regardless of the weight given to it).

So what is he really saying? Be sure that students are getting some practice at any grade that is 'scored.'

Example, I covered one of the homework questions that is due tomorrow in class today (that was the practice). And we discussed the 2nd half of our vocabulary so that students understood exactly how to study for the quiz on Wednesday.

I am sure many of you already do this. O'Connor is just saying it is important and focuses on it. Sadly the use of "formative and summative" is misunderstood, IMHO.

At 5/5/09, 9:03 PM, Blogger bperkins said...

The best way to get your head around summative and formative is to remember that formative is ONLY used to "inform" instruction. It informs the students as to how they are progressing toward understanding the information and it informs the instructor as to how well the instruction material and activities are working. One simple example would be a four question quiz at the end of a lecture where only 40% of the class answered 3 of 4 correctly. The instructor would be "informed" the material did not get through very well and would adjust his instruction for the next session...


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