Grading That Measures Learning
The Homework Opportunity Club at Roxboro Middle School reflects a fundamental rethinking of what grades mean. Grades historically have reflected the completion of activities, but across our district and beyond, educators are working to have grades reflect learning. In the past, when a student did not complete an assignment, they received a zero.
"Mathematically, a zero is a devastating mark to a student's grade because it is 60 times worse than the lowest D," said Roxboro Principal Brian Sharosky. At Rox Middle, students receiving a D or F as a cumulative grade over a two-week period must attend the afterschool cub. All core subject teachers (Math, English, Social Studies and Science) host a section. Every two weeks, families are notified if their students need to attend a session.
"We don't want to wait until the five-week progress report for parents to find out if their child is failing a subject," said Mr. Sharosky. To keep students interested in learning and to encourage their progress, students can demonstrate their knowledge of a section of the work and re-do the work or re-take the test. Ten of Marcie Beggs' eighth grade American History students were in her classroom on a December afternoon. Most were preparing to re-take a test. They must demonstrate mastery of knowledge on incomplete or missed assignments. Then they are then given credit for the work and can re-take a test. "If I get a B on the re-test, what will my grade be?" asks one boy. He is thrilled when Mrs. Beggs tells him he will have a B in her class if he gets a B on the re-test.
"This process has encouraged many students to be more responsible for and engaged in their own learning,” she said. “We are seeing more effort and less discouragement." While the Homework Club started in October, preliminary results are encouraging. 41% of students had a 3.0-4.0 GPA in the first quarter of this school year, up from 33% a year earlier.