Grading: A historical perspective

Starch (1913):

The adoption of a uniform scale of grades as well as a uniform standard in the frequency with which the different grades are assigned is a pressing need among colleges and secondary schools. (p. 636)

Several years later at John Marshall High School:

Our system requires (1) that the mark which is given for scholarship be based on achievement alone; (2) that a uniform distribution be arranged for the school; (3) that in each subject the pupils be grouped so as to approximate this distribution; (4) that marks assigned will approximate the distribution; (5) that ability tests will be given to all pupils to determine their probable learning rates
(Dustin, 1926, p. 29)

On page 30, the results from John Marshall are described:

We regarded failure of 2 percent of the class too low and one of 12 percent too high.

How have things changed, if at all, nearly 100 years later?  You can be the judge.

Works Cited

Dustin, C. R. (1926). A scheme of objective marking. Educational Research Bulletin, 5(2), 28-31+40-41.

Starch, D. (1913). Reliability and distribution of grades. Science, 38(983), 630-636.

 

Subbing in 2nd grade (thank you, elementary teachers)

I subbed for a while in 2nd grade for a while this afternoon. A few quick take-aways:

  1. It was different than subbing in Kindergarten and preschool (last year’s doses of classroom reality) and a lot different than teaching high school students (six years of trying to get better).
  2. Flat Stanley is a humorous book.
  3. The end-of-day routine ensuring students get on the right bus, picked up by parents, etc. may be the most stressful part of the day.

Thanks again and again to elementary teachers. Y’all have a challenging job.

Christmas gift exchange

Three siblings and their spouses annually draw names for a Christmas exchange.  How many different possibilities are there? (Perhaps it’s not obvious, but married couples would not ever be asked to but a gift for each other in the exchange).

Another way of thinking about this scenario: after how many years are we guaranteed to repeat a previous year’s drawing?

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Fact checking “Common Core Math” news stories

Here it is.

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Yet another, “Oh my goodness…can you believe the Common Core is doing this to our kids and families?” news story.  After a friend shared this article with me in jest, I thought to myself, “I am a curriculum director, former math teacher and relatively informed educator, do the Common Core standards really prescribe this type of math writing?”

So, I decided to download the Common Core math standards.

I searched for the phrase “check” and did not see any references to the standards prescribing how to write checks.  Next, the news story referred to an elementary school, so I read every math standard for grades K-5 (that’s roughly 30 pages of the standards document).  I looked specifically for phrases suggesting how students should write, add or count.  Here are a few that stood out:

  • Count to 100 by ones and by tens. (K.CC.1)
  • Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects) (K.CC.3)
  • Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral. (1.NBT.1)
  • Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers. (2.OA.2)

…and I eventually came across this one:

Read and write numbers to 1000 using base-ten numerals, number names, and expanded form (2.NBT.3)

As you can see, it is evident the Common Core standards do not dictate Xs and Os in place of numbers.  Perhaps a math textbook publisher suggested this strategy, however it is clear after reading the standards this type of writing is not a required instructional approach.

As I’ve blogged previously, there’s no such thing as the Common Core police.  Until educators begin to discern the differences between the intent of the standards and textbook publishers who freely and with absolutely no regulation stamp “Common Core aligned” on their materials, we’ll continue to see more of these types of uninformed news stories.

Please consider printing this post to hang in your local teachers’ lounge and/or sharing it with friends on social media.  Let’s help each other fact check Common Core news stories! 

There’s Still Time to Learn the Standards: A New Look at Grading

Agree or disagree with the following statement?

Students learn at different rates and different paces.

As an educational deeply entrenched in thinking through effective grading practices, I have asked the statement above to 1,000+ teachers and administrators. To date, not a single practitioner has argued with the premise students (and adults!) learn at different rates. Yet, in secondary schools across the country, students are penalized for learning slower than their peers:

….

Continue reading this original post I authored for the ASCD InService blog