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Dear Mr. O'Connor,

We are two students in 8th grade who attend a middle school in the Blue Valley school district. We are currently working on a project that promotes chunking psychology. We are proposing to help students transition from elementary school to middle school by having shorter, more frequent AOL's. As of now, the transition is made by having differently weighted grades in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. We would like to make the grades weighted equally, but give shorter, more frequent AOL's in 6th and 7th grade. Do you think that this change would be beneficial to students?
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sofia Acosta and Morgan Killmar

Sofia Acosta and Morgan Killmar


Sofia and Morgan, I cannot answer your question because I do not know what "AOL's" are. I
see no way in which using different weighting for grades helps students transition from
middle school to high school. I think middle school students would be better off if there were
grades for standards with no overall subject grades


Lyn Rantz's


Hello, I am the principal of these fine two students. AOL is our terminology for summative
or Assessment of Learning at the end of the units. The AFL are formatives used to track
progress throughout the unit.

Our school has a 80/20 weights of summative vs formatives in 8th grade and a 70/30
weighting in 6th and 7th grade. I know you believe strongly in a 100% weighting,
however we have not gottten to that point yet. I think their question is: should there be
shorter more frequent summative assessments, they believe it is a psychological better,
less stressful assessment measurement when the tests aren't "so big"?
Every teacher in my building teaches by deconstructed standards, which we term Learning
Targets and their grade books and tests are identified by these Targets.

Thank you for your expertise for these girls.

The Grade Doctor's


Thanks for the explanation. I think the students would be better off if there are the same or a smaller number of AOL's and a lot more AfL with lots of descriptive feedback, self assessment and goal setting and the opportunity for reassessment on the AOL's.

Fran Noah's


I live in the Mississippi Delta, we have a Superintendent who has been with us for several
years now. We as parents have had to stand by and watch him take our schools grading
scale through the wringer. We're now at an 80/20 weighted grade average system. 80
being test grades and 20 being other work. It seems to me that this system takes away
teacher/classroom authority, and students. An now cram for ALL tests. He states that this
is making the school better test takers. After much clamor from us parents, we fill as
though we have lost. My question: is this really a suitable technique or do we as parents
need to try harder toward change.

The Grade Doctor's


Fran, you are probably not going to be happy with my response because I believe grades should be 100% from summative assessments (a variety, not just paper and pencil tests) and 0% for other 'work.' "Work' is learning not assessment and students (need to) understand in band and basketball the difference between practice (work) and performance (summative assessment), and they need to have the same understanding - and opportunities to learn, practice, and make mistakes - in the classroom. Everyone needs to understand that "everything counts - some as practice and some as performance" and that almost always "the better you practice the better you perform." This approach does not take away "teacher/classroom authority;" what it should do is make clear that through learning activities and formative assessment teachers and students are working together to help every student to be successful on the summative assessments that are used to determine grades.