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Yet another night in which I meant to go to bed early and here I am at almost 10pm still up and thinking about work. I’ve been doing a ton of reading on how other teachers have implemented standards-based grading or other interesting assessment systems in their classrooms. I’ve been stuffing my brain with ideas as I work through my plans for assessment in my AP government class this year- I’ve been working something out based on standards-based grading and portfolios.

Today I met with one of my administrators to go over my rough draft of the plan and get the outside/devil’s advocate feedback. Her biggest concern was making sure that the translation from learning goals to grade on the report card was explained in a way that students and parents could understand. We also discussed how to make the idea that students would be showing growth all year on the skills standards balance with assigning a letter grade each quarter.

Then I got home and caught up on my reading (I had left a lot of tabs open in Chrome) and started to question the entire plan! Sigh….

In the end, I have 5 days until the start of school, I need to make a decision I can live with now. So here’s the plan as it stands:

Grades weighted:
40% Content Knowledge (probably assessed in the usual fashion with quizzes & FRQs)
30% Skills Goals (taught, retaught and reassessed all year long in the portfolios)
30% Unit Goals (assessed in each quarter’s portfolio, projects & writing mostly)

Portfolios:
Collected twice a quarter, although the first collection is mostly a draft with feedback. Students will have a rubric sheet for each goal outlining what constitutes Mastery (Judged on Unacceptable, Developing, Proficient, Advanced, Exemplary). They self-assess and include evidence for why they deserve that ranking. I read portfolios and create a final score. This score will translate to the % grade put into my gradebook. I plan to have the Skill Goals weighted so that students will be expected to be proficient/advanced in more skills as the year goes on.

Feedback:
There will be Must Complete assignments/projects in each unit (if you don’t do them you get an INC for the quarter, same for not turning in your portfolio). These will be returned with feedback from me, linked to the Unit and Skill Goals but containing no numbers. One of the biggest issues with feedback is that students usually ignore it if there’s a grade on the paper too.

I’ve looked at a lot of resources and drawn on some of the research I read and did in grad school to create this system, but in particular Stephen Lazar and Jason Buell’s posts on SBG have been very helpful.

Now I need to finish narrowing down my skill standards (I have 15 which is too many) and write up the part of the syllabus that covers this.