Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keeping Track

OK, so now we don't have a gradebook of points on assignments, but instead one of scores on standards, each of which can change multiple times during the term, and not even necessarily the same number of times for each student.  How do we keep track?

Method #1: just rewrite the old scores with new ones every time a new assessment is done

  • Pros: relatively easy to do, compatible (mostly) with the FAWeb gradebook
  • Cons: lots of entry into the gradebook software, FAWeb doesn't do the grading function correctly, but it could average the standard scores, doesn't track history of the scores, you have no record of a student's score on a particular assignment

Method #2: Have a different spreadsheet/record book for each kid, with a column or row for each standard

  • You could potentially track scores by day or by assignment
  • Pros: Lots of historical data
  • Cons: Tracking by assignment certainly brings up lots of writing of assignment name on many sheets, you can't see the class at once, so many sheets!, not compatible with FAWeb (or only so by you updating each student each week or so in parallel with your other grade sheets

Method #3 (mine): Track student scores on a weekly tally sheet (maybe up to 3 per standard per student) - each class gets a grid with students in row, standards in columns, and scores are entered in the boxes, color-coded by assignment; come up with an average or something of those, by whatever algorithm or judgment you'd like to apply (I use judgment, looking at the different scores and their assignment types); enter those scores for each student for the week into Excel gradebook for that week; the gradebook uses the calculation method specified to come up with the current score for each student for each standard and then creates a report for each student tracking historical and current scores for each standard for each student, displaying those on graphs.

  • Pros: Not as much work to implement as it sounds (really!); tracks history to a reasonable degree in the gradebook, while tracking history completely in the accumulated weekly tally sheets, if needed; historical graphs and reports for each student; class averages for each standard - overall and each week - so that I can adjust instruction to the current state of knowledge
  • Cons: Takes maybe 30-45 minutes/week to enter grades, export spreadsheets [I'm planning to write an Excel macro to make that much quicker, actually], and upload them to wikiphys (so that families and students can access them) [I don't think that's so bad, so maybe it's a pro or neutral]; not compatible with FAWeb at all [I post links to their documents in the comments on FAWeb]; takes some work to set up the sheets, etc. at the beginning of the year/term, and a little to print the summary sheets each week
You see which I'm partial to, but observations and suggestions are welcome!

Here are sample documents for a class, with names redacted:
  • Week 3 tally sheet
  • Week 3 page from gradebook
  • Summary page from gradebook (calculating the 'counting' scores for each student for each standard)
  • One student's report page, showing current ('counting') scores and historical graphs

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The big test on a unit isn't necessarily the last time that a standard is assessed - that's one of the awesome things about SBG - so students aren't off of the hook after the test is over.  That 3.5/4 that you got on acceleration goes away as soon as you show that your understanding's shaky now, and I love that.

That said, the content standards don't come up as often after their initial big unit tests.  In this way, the unit test is a kind of "final look" at content standards - nothing's ever really final, but some of those scores may not come up again, and those may stick.  It's at this point that kids would reassess individually, if they didn't quite get a concept or two on the test.

What about the skills standards?
  • We're talking about algebra, 'no numbers 'til the end', units, graphical and algebraic models, making predictions, presentation, concept synthesis, etc. here
  • These come up a lot - maybe they should be averaged over the term, or maybe the last, say, three scores should be averaged.  I don't quite know how to do that last one in my Excel gradebook (we'll look at that later!)
  • They're so universal that I'm never 'closing the book' on them, so there's not so much of an end to these
How about the lab standards?
  • We're talking about experimental design, lab writing, lab report format, error analysis, measurement here
  • Perhaps there should be a final 'big' lab planned each term, so that I'm pretty sure that the last look at these standards is a good one
  • I'd love to get some of these 'in the raw,' - that is, not in a group setting.  That's easy for writing and reports, but the measurement and especially the expt. design are usually found in group settings.  I need to get them isolated, but it's hard in a class of 17 to do that.  Perhaps on the last test of the term, somehow?