Jan 9Liked by David Clark

One suggestion for the 'growth' part of the grade: The final step in the trust process could be to turn this part of your assessment over to the students. I tried that last year for the first time because I wanted a PreCalc upgrading course to be about more than mastering the content.

When adult students come back to school (in this case for math upgrading) they tend to fall back on their high school ways. I wanted my group to become more positively and effectively self-managing -- to evolve new adult student success personas they could carry forward into whatever future post-sec programs they entered. For everyone this turned out to have to do with striking a successful work-life balance, with seeking effective help, with figuring out what they had to do, when, how much, and why to meet their goals. The one thing I insisted on was that this portion of the grade not be averaged. Their course-end self assessment would be the mark for that portion of their grade (and I gave it 20%). I didn't want early errors in judgement to be held against them, as it's impossible to figure out how to become a more effective learner without making mistakes and figuring out how to do better.

We began by collaboratively developing a self-assessment rubric which became a sort of generalized guide. My vision wasn't as clear as yours, but what I discovered was that 'growth' is measured very personally. Through regular 1-1 meetings, each student and I adapted and readapted that first rubric to reflect his/her needs and wants at the time and to decide what kind of evidence would be shared by each student to support his/her final self-evaluation. Each student's final version of the rubric met his/her unique needs and wants.

Although some students who were extremely anxious about final marks initially saw this as a way to pad their grades, by the end everyone was able to look back and see that the work they'd done had far exceeded the expectations reflected in our first class rubric -- no padding was needed! (Of course, I also structured the biggest part of the rest of their assessment so growth was unavoidable if they were going to get grades that would open the next doors they knocked on -- which helped a lot!) As the term went on, most students upped the ante on themselves and their evolving rubrics reflected that. Once the students came to trust the process, they were able to experience the joy of becoming self-directed adult learners -- even in math!

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One of the biggest things I've learned in my past year of experimenting with alternative grading is that different grading systems make sense for different course content. You do a good job in this article of identifying two different systems for your different classes. But I don't know if this or other articles explicitly suggest not trying to cram all classes into one framework. So, that's my small suggestion for a message to share that might save future headaches! Happy new year!

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