Step three in my adventures into standards-based grading: Tracking progress
I ask students to numerically track their individual progress for each topic scale.The purpose of the tracking sheet is to help them track their progress and self-assess. The tracking sheet is designed for student use.
For every topic I give students something like this:
They store these in a two-pocket portfolio.1
1. Topic name at the top. My original tracking sheet didn't have a separate topic name, only a learning goal. I don't know what I was thinking.
2. A graph to track progress. The y-axis is a 0-4 score. The x-axis is individual assessments.
3. On the bottom you'll see the 0-4 scale along with a condensed form of my specific learning goals. I print out and posterize a slightly more detailed version on my bulletin board.
4. On the back there's a checklist of each specific standard. The far left column has the letter that matches up to questions on the tests. The next column is chapter and section the information can be found in the book.
How to use it:
Again, this tracking sheet is for them. They should get two things from it. Am I making progress? What do I need to work on next?
Testing day in a nutshell:
- Hand out test.
- Kids take test.
- We score the test immediately.
- Track progress.
- Set next individual goal.
- Start immediate remediation.
Step 3: Score the test. I'm a big believer in immediate feedback. I need to know how I'm doing right away. Ideally, I can get feedback as I go. If you're a Montessori kind of person, they have all these self-correcting activities. If you're a coach of a sport, you teach music, or art, you guide them as they go. You probably have some self-checking worksheets. If I can't get my feedback as I go, then I want it as soon as I'm done. We go over the answers immediately. I want their test in front of them so they can immediately compare. If I want to input the score into the gradebook1 I have them copy their answers down onto a half sheet of paper and turn that in.
Here's how the scoring system works. They get a 2.0 if they got 100% correct all the way up to where it says 3.0. If scribd and the pdf export didn't mess up the formatting, that means all the questions on the first page. If they missed anything, even one thing, that's less than a 2.0. If they got ALL the 2.0 questions and ALL the 3.0 questions right, that's a 3.0. 4.0 means everything is 100% correct. I use half points as well as full so 1.5 and 2.5 are fair game. Why insist on 100%? Because your grades should have meaning. A student scoring a 2.0 in my class will understand, at minimum, all of the simple concepts on that topic. It dilutes the meaning of the score if it means, "Carina gets most of the simple concepts but there's something she's fuzzy on. That's different from the thing that Michael is unclear on, but his score is also the same." It's called standards-based grading for a reason. Their grade is based on meeting a well-defined standard.
Step 4: Track progress. I have my students write in the date in the line to the right of the graph and then do a simple bar graph. They lightly shade in the bar. You will be amazed at how often students point out the progress they've made. It is also incredibly powerful to point to the tracking sheet of the person next to them. My students usually think students are just born smart. It's a big deal for them to see that the straight A student sitting next to them also scored a 0.5 on the first assessment.
On the back, they traffic light each standard. They match the letter next to each test question with the corresponding standard. I just have them mark a plus/check/or minus for each one. I tell them that a plus means they'll understand it the rest of their lives, a check means they've pretty much got it but need a bit more practice, a minus means anywhere from "I get some parts of it" to "What class is this again?" This checklist is my way of getting the direct remediation goodness that skill-lists offer while maintaining the learning progression that topic scales build in.
The front graph is almost always based on test results. They might traffic light a single standard after doing an assignment, notes, lecture, or whatever. Anytime they feel like they've got it now, they can go ahead and put a plus next to a standard.
Step 5: Set a goal. Immediately after filling in their tracking sheet I have them set a goal. This year I just had them write at the bottom of their test,"The standard I will work on next is _______. I am going to____." I've tried a few different sentences frames but haven't really found a difference in how they perform. I think next year I might just include a separate goal sheet in their portfolios. I'd like to create a single reference place with the ultimate goal of being able to help them determine which specific strategies helped them achieve their learning goals.
Step 6: Start remediation. This one is always tricky. I usually go over the answers with a Keynote preso so the last slide will often include specific options I have prepped. They also have a textbook, an interactive reader, and a workbook. Most often it looks something like this where I have them break off into groups focusing on selected topics. I haven't gotten to the point where I can have 30 students working on 30 different things at 30 different levels. If you've got the technology and access, I know some teachers who screencast everything and send their kids off to different stations to watch those. Right now, I'm just happy that I've moved beyond all 30 students doing the exact same thing. I get them going then direct teach for a few minutes at each table. A quick description is here.
I have 53 minute periods so a typical test might take 15 minutes. It takes another 15 minutes to score, track, set a goal and get somewhere. That leaves a good 20 minutes of individualized time.3 If you're pressed for time or you want longer and more in depth tests, have them set a goal for the next day and just walk in and get going.
Your students have no idea how to help themselves. It's really hard to get this going and takes a ton of front-loading if they're not used to taking responsibility for their own learning. It took a lot of modeling. I think the first test I gave we spent a whole period just scoring it and doing the bar graph and traffic lighting. The next day we spent half the period writing goals. There are a special few that still just can't figure it out by the end of the year and wait for me to come around. I don't know what to do with those kids. Having them create a specific plan helped a lot. One of my major mistakes was just thinking I could tell them what they needed to learn and they'd go off and learn it. Totally not happening. Setting written goals was a big step and offering a range of choices was another. I was hoping to wean them off choosing something I had created and get them to create their own plan but I didn't have a lot of success with that.
It seems like an insane amount of prep for different kids to be working on different things. It is at first. No question. But you can reuse most of the same stuff for the duration of a topic. The student will get what they're supposed to get, move up the ladder, and work on something different next time. So, yes, there's a fair amount of prep the first time, but after that it takes care of itself. I'm not a master organizer, but you could have a bunch of numbered folders or trays on a back table. When you put up the choice list (or leave it up throughout the unit), they'd just match the standard to the number of the file folder. The internet is your friend so if you have access, make use of all the applets and videos you can find. The few kids at my school that have working internet access at home will tell me that a few minutes on an applet I pointed them to is worth a whole week of me blabbering at them in class. If I had computers in my class it would probably be pretty easy to send them to specific websites to get help.
In the last post, I added a fourth and fifth principle to Dan Meyer's. I've tried to set up my tests and tracking sheets in such a way that it does most of the work for me. I'm hoping to be as invisible as possible in this whole process. The more I interject myself into it, the more likely it is a student is going to attribute success (and failure) to me instead of to him/herself.
As always, leave any improvements/suggestions/modifications in the comments. I tend to write these posts at 11:30 at night so if something isn't coherent, I'll explain more as needed.
Edit: Probably should include this link again: http://www.box.net/shared/6xplu3btfy It's the Word 2004 (mac) template for the tracking sheets.
1: I buy these for them in the beginning of the year along with a spiral notebook. I get the notebooks from Target. Office Depot usually has the portfolios in store for, I think, 29 cents each during back to school sales.
2: Don't worry, the gradebook post is coming next.
3: Ok, by the end of the year it takes that long. The first few tests take an entire period and remediation follows the next day. We get pretty quick as the year progresses though.