Collecting the Right Evidence

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The grading period is about to end, and yet I still haven't gotten as far as I'd like to be. I'm almost done collecting the data that my district and state require me to collect (DRA, MAP, SLO's, etc.), so there is some good news. And then there are the kids! The honeymoon period has worn off, and we are really getting to know each other. We are almost done with our first class read-aloud, the leaves are starting to fall, and this can only mean one thing: I have to face one of my least favorite tasks as a teacher... Assigning grades.

Grades are so subjective, aren't they? I met with my grade level team yesterday, and we talked about one child in particular, Ike. Ike is a nice kid, but has some attention difficulties. He is failing math, science, and social studies, yet earning a B in my language arts class. Is he less able to do math then? No, actually not. His test scores show he is an average student, ability-wise, in each subject. What's different is how we collect evidence and what "counts."

I just sat down to make a list of what I would like to count before the first nine week grading period ends. I asked myself: What evidence do I need to see that children are progressing? What doesn't count, or, in other words, which homework or classwork assignments are only practice? Here's my list:

What "counts"

  1. Weekly response to reading #7 and #8
  2. Final personal narrative piece
  3. Vocabulary quiz for unit 2
  4. Informational text close reading assignment #4
  5. Literary analysis pages

These assignments, mostly done in class, will be added into my gradebook (weighted by categories that align to the CCSS strands) and contribute to a student's final grade for this quarter. Students are allowed to turn any work in late, without penalty. This means that when I do finalize my grades, they will reflect ability, not behavior, compliance, or organization.

What does not "count" (practice assignments and formative assessments)

  1. Weekly response to reading assignments, #1-5 (these were practice assignments!)
  2. Vocabulary workbook pages
  3. Weekly reading passages 1-3
  4. Book club participation
  5. First draft, narrative writing piece
  6. Second draft, narrative writing piece
  7. Informational text close reading assignment #3

Are these assignments important? Absolutely. They gave the students much-needed practice and feedback, and provided me with insight into what they were learning or still needed help with. But I don't just plug these assignments into my gradebook blindly, because they wouldn't show mastery.

How are you calculating your grades this quarter? What are you counting? What does not count?

You can learn more about collecting the right evidence in FIP Module 3: Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Learning.