Saturday, March 20, 2010

Professional judgment pt. 2

I was reading the last post and realized that if I were reading it I'd think, " if he doesn't want me to just enter in grades, what do I do?"

We just had trimester grades due.

Me three years back:
Picture a giant stack of papers on the right. Today is the first day I'm looking at these papers.1  I have my laptop open and three red pens. I grab a paper on the right. Check, check, check with my red pen. Enter something in the computer. It looks like a heist movie where they loop the surveillance feed. This takes hours. When I'm done with a class I look up and see what the final grades for my kids ended up being. I register surprise at a few of the grades. I then switch my class list to the next period and start over.

Me now:
Stack of papers still. Only this time they're spread out on the desk. I have a few recent tests out. Some labs. A few free responses and quick writes. I have some scribbled out notes from conversations I've had. A portfolio containing tracking sheets and self-selected work samples are in a folder. I've seen all or nearly all of the papers on my desk before. All of these belong to a single student and all of these are valuable data points. I decide if they have progressed (or regressed) from their last score and move on to the next kid.

The numbers still matter. The numbers inform your judgment. When we remove them from their context, they lose their utility.

1: I shudder to think how many missed learning opportunities I've accumulated over the years by amassing stacks of ungraded papers.


  1. Always good to see someone paying attention to classroom assessment!

    Discovering relevant (to me) blogs outside my orbit is sort of like confirming that there's other life in the universe. The discovery is uplifting.

    If you've been reading The Science Goddess, we have something in common.

  2. The Science Goddess was the first blogger I read regularly. I came to this world looking for assessment help and stumbled on her after a lot of googling.