I suggest we admit that our assessments are merely a judgement. Our judgement of students’ understanding and effort as measured by OUR measuring sticks not THE measuring sticks. I believe that once we admit the subjective nature of assessment, we will be free to work towards more authentic and hopefully accurate assessment means.This eventually led us to a discussion on one of the essential elements of standards-based grading: professional judgment.
We tend to hide behind the shield of numbers. We enter in grades and weights and let our grading software do the rest. If a parent comes in to complain about a student's grade, we point to our gradebook and say, "They got 60 out of 100 on the last test and their overall grade is a 72%." Nobody can argue with the numbers. In fact, we're letting the numbers do the arguing for us.
That's the problem. The numbers protect us and give us authority. One of the strengths of SBG is that I'm required to defend every one of my grades. I can't hide behind the mean or median. I have to own my assessments and own every score that goes into my gradebook.
I am constantly re-evaluating my methods of assessment. I have to take into account the student's total body of work. I have to be completely clear on what it means to have mastered a standard.
I understand the hesitation in switching to a SB system. It's scary to be so exposed. I gather and record information obsessively, at least in part because I live in fear of the day a parent kicks down my door, demands to know why his daughter got a C, and I can't defend my grade.
Professional judgment is a key pillar of SBG and perhaps the scariest. However, I firmly believe that true assessment reform cannot take place unless we as teachers are willing to take responsibility for the grade we record in our books.