Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Determining a Final Grade

It's that time of year: report cards!  So I thought we could start a conversation about the achievement chart and the role it plays in determining the math mark that appears on a student's report card.

In the past, individual marks on a test is added up and a total is written on top of the paper.  Sometimes, a letter is written to correspond to the numeric score.

In addition to this, a student's final grade might be determined by adding up his/her individual marks on tests/quizzes and the mean is calculated.  There are many commercial products that are available to help you do this.

However, our Ontario Math curriculum document indicates that determining a final grade it is not as simple as this.  So we (Grade 1 to 12 teachers ) get the achievement chart to help us.

The achievement chart is misunderstood by many.  We're not always sure when or how to use it.  But understanding it will help us assess and evaluate our students in a fair and consistent manner.

The achievement chart does make it clear that Mathematics is not about how much you know or if you get the right answer.  It calls for understanding, thinking, and application skills from our students.

"The four categories should be considered as interrelated, reflecting the wholeness and interconnectedness of learning" (page 19).

So with that in mind, the Ontario Curriculum document goes on to say:

Teachers will ensure that student work is assessed and/or evaluated in a balanced manner with respect to the four categories, and that achievement of particular expectations is considered within the appropriate categories.  (page 20)

Essentially, that mark on the report card must reflect a student's achievement of the four categories, in a body of work.

Design of Assessments/Evaluations
One of the ways some teachers in SE2 have been making sure that they account for all four categories in their assessments in through their test designs.  Here is an example of a grade three test.  Thanks for sharing, Marie!

Communication with Students
I was recently at demonstration lesson in a Grade 6 class when I noticed this:

Jessica Nip, the classroom teacher, created this with her students.  She refers to it regularly.  All her students understand that their final grade on the report card is based on their achievement in all four categories.

Communication with Parents
Many parents believe mathematics is about the knowledge part.  Some may argue that a child who knows their multiplication facts up to 25 x 25 should automatically get an A on the report card.

Sharing the achievement chart with parents is one way to let them know that you're looking for more than a child's knowledge of concepts when determining their report card mark.  Also, you can reference a particular category when discussing a child's strength or offering next steps.

What are your thoughts and/or experiences with using the achievement chart with students? parents?

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