Monday, December 04, 2006

VASCD - Thomas Guskey

Guskey's presentation was titled "Improving Student Learning with Standards and Assessments". He was funny and enlightening - a strong combination for the end of the day at a conference. His thinking about grading was very helpful to me and gave me a lot to continue to think about. As assessment is one of my "big idea" issues!

The packet of information he gave us is extensive and I have only begun to truly dig into it. It includes a grading and reporting questionaire that I found to be fascinating. It asks questions about the reasons we use report cards and assign grades, any changes one would make in standard grading systems, what teachers use to determine students' grades, and positive and negative aspects of grading and report cards. Simply as a personal reflection it is an interesting exercise to undertake.

He also included a table of student grades for seven students with a bit of background information about them. This table shows five grades per student and then three different final grades. One final grade is simply the average, on is the median, and one is the average without the lowest grade. Looking at the table and the background information it is thought-provoking to consider what grade each student deserves.

One of his suggestions is that teachers always consider two questions as they plan: What do I want students to learn? and What evidence would I accept to verify their learning? This seems to tie very neatly into the ideas of the DuFours.

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