Standards-based Grading: Product, Process, and Progress

Posted by k conway on February 9, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Most teachers base their grading on some combination of criteria, especially when students receive only a single grade in each subject area (Brookhart 1993; Frary, Cross, and Weber 1993). The majority of teachers also vary the criteria they employ from student to student, taking into account individual circumstances (Truog and Friedman 1996). Although teachers do so in an effort to be fair, the result is a “hodgepodge” grade that includes elements of achievement, effort, and improvement (Brookhart 1991; Cizek, Fitzgerald, and Rachor 1996; McMillan, Myran, and Workman 2002). This makes interpreting the grade or report even more difficult for parents (Friedman and Frisbie 1995). An “A” grade, for example, may mean that the student knew what the teacher expected before instruction began (product), didn’t learn as well as expected but tried very hard (process), or simply made significant improvement (progress). A practical solution to this problem is to establish clear indicators of product, process, and progress, and report each separately (Guskey 1994; Stiggins 2001; Wiggins 1996). In other words, teachers separate grades or marks for achievement from those for homework, effort, work habits, or learning progress. Parents generally prefer this approach because it gives them more detailed and prescriptive information. It also simplifies reporting for teachers because they no longer have to combine these diverse types of information into a single grade. The key to success, however, rests in identifying those indicators and the particular criteria to which they relate. Teachers must specifically describe how they plan to evaluate students’ achievement, effort, work habits, and progress, and then communicate these plans directly to students and to parents.

Categories: Planning for Instruction

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