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Friday, August 27, 2010

Assessment-Friendly Grading Categories

Open a gradebook. What do you see?

Typically there are columns for recorded scores from a variety of assignments. The left-most column lists the names of students. Row 1 is a header that labels the type of assignment, followed in the column with the scores that recorded the work by students.
It's difficult to know what such a table of numbers tells us about students' understanding of the coursework. All that can be said for certain from what is displayed is that Summer and Thor excel in taking quizzes--thus labeled--while no clue as to what the "quizzes" are about.

What if, instead, the gradebook looked more like this:

Labels are one key to unlock understanding of achievement data. In this second example, the data has significant meaning. Isn't more important to know what the assignment focused on, then the type of assigned work? There is more to the data in these examples, but to just look narrowly at the impact of substantive labels can raise our understanding of a student's progress.