Thursday, October 3, 2013

Proficiency Grading

Ken O’Connor, A Repair Kit for Grading15 Fixes for Broken Grades

Under the old grading system an “A” would mean you have reached that standard, but how did you get there? Did you ace the test or did you hand in extra credit to make your “B” turn into an “A”? Did your math teacher and algebra teacher have the same level of consistency in what a level of achievement with a particular letter grade actually represents? Grades should be artifacts of learning, and students need to receive grades that reflect what they have actually learned.

Ken O’Connor book A Repair Kit for Grading, addresses how educators interested in examining and improving grading practices should ask the following questions. 

 “How confident am I with the grades students get in my classroom, and are they consistent, accurate, and meaningful that support learning?”

“How confident am I that the grades I assign students accurately reflect my school’s or district’s published performance standards and desired learning outcomes?”

The primary goal of a standards-based system is for all students to “meet standards.” In addition, educators must consistently evaluate their achievement using similar criteria and for grades to support learning, they must involve students in the grading process. A Repair Kit for Grading is organized into four categories that can make significant contributions to improved achievement, create positive attitudes about learning, and give teachers and administrators ways to make the repairs. 

ü  Fixes for Practices That Distort Achievement:
Include only achievement, provide support for the learner, seek evidence of achievement, determine actual level of achievement, reports absences separately, and uses only individual achievement evidence.

ü  Fixes for Low-Quality or Poorly Organized Evidence:
Organize and report evidence by the standards/learning goals, provide clear descriptions of achievement expectations, compare each student’s performance to preset standards, and rely only on quality assessments.

ü  Fixes for Inappropriate Grade Calculation:
Consider other measures of central tendency, use professional judgment and alternative reassessing to determine real achievement.

ü  Fixes to Support Learning:

Uses summative evidence, emphasizes recent achievements, and involves students in key roles in assessment and grading practices that promote achievement.

Ken O’Connor’s comprehensive Learning Team Study Guide for A Repair Kit for Grading15 Fixes for Broken Grades is available online from ETS Assessment Training Institute at

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