Based on the work of people like Ron Berger (Leaders of Their Own Learning), we set defined learning targets (objectives) for each class period. We then have one or two "accuracy checks" on the learning targets we think the students will have difficulty on in a week. An accuracy check is basically a graded exit ticket on a specific standard. Think one question or two question quiz. If I have time in class, I have students grade each other’s work. Students may choose to retake them as often as they like until the unit test.
Like most schools, we have a quiz halfway through the unit. Each question on the quiz assesses a specific learning target from the unit. We write the learning targets above each question or group of questions so the teachers and the students know which objective we’re attempting to assess (new for us). After each quiz, we started compiling data about how each of our students did on each of the learning target (new for us). Along with the accuracy checks, this allows us to target our interventions for each student. Then we aggregate the data for all classes. Specifically, we are looking for 80% for 80% of our students. Basically, we’re calling it good enough if 80% of our students are achieving what we’ve defined as mastery (80%).
This last quiz it was very apparent we needed to reassess one of the learning targets. Students from every teacher struggled with it. We then allow students to retake just the learning target they missed on the quiz (new for us). In order to qualify for a retake, the student must fix the mistakes on the quiz and then do 3 practice problems correctly. They must do this for each learning target they would like to retake.
Each team member is in charge of helping create the assessments. We take previous assessments and align questions to learning targets. Then we discuss the quiz or test together as a team. We don’t quite know what to do with the test data, yet. We know which students are struggling with which learning targets but we don’t have any way of doing anything about it that the team agrees on. We don’t allow retakes of the test in Algebra 2. Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t. We’ll see.
I called this a modified standards-based grading model because we do count homework and we currently don’t currently allow retakes past the unit test. Tests and quizzes are worth 70%. Accuracy checks are 20%. Homework/practice is worth 10%. Though it’s not much of the overall grade, missing assignments in the grade book are a strong motivator for students (and parents) alike.
For homework, we allow students to turn in any completed assignment up until the unit test for full credit. We had quite a bit of back and forth on this. I’ve used all sorts of options at the secondary level: no credit, 1/2 credit one day late, 10% per day, etc. This is new to me. Late work handed in whenever for full credit? It... stretches me. However, as the team discussed the point of homework being practice with a particular topic, we all agreed we would rather the students do the work than not do the work. So, full credit it is.
I didn’t originally vote for all of our changes this year. But as a team, we made a decision and everyone is expected to woman up and toe the line. After a month under the newly revised system, I understand more of what my students know this year than any previous year in teaching. Granted, it’s more paperwork than I prefer but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make.