Conferences and Workshops
Ask the Grade Doctor
Contact Me

Ask The Grade Doctor

Full Question Detail

Return to All Questions


My colleague and I have been using Standards Based Grading for a
number of years in our high school Spanish classes. We use the program
Easy Grade Pro which has a component that you can use specifically to
assess using Standards.

In our district traditionally each quarter must be weighed equally and
the semester exam may not exceed 20% of a student's grade. So
typically on the traditional side of the Easy Grade Pro gradebook,
teachers combine quarters 1 and 2 and then the semester exam to
calculate the students final grade (and their grades may be weighted
by category within each quarter grade as well).

In the past we have sort of "fudged" the gradebook to work with the
district system. We cut off scores at the quarter and recorded them
for grade reports. Then we transferred all of our 1st quarter grades
into the 2nd quarter section of the gradebook and then basically
ignored the original quarter 1 so that our grades were not going to be
averaged at the end, it was an ongoing grade based on the standards
with no real averaging involved. When students took the semester
exams, their summative reading grade was entered as a reading grade,
summative speaking grade was entered as a speaking grade, etc.

Grades were transparent in this way so students would always know what
their individual grades were in the categories of speaking, listening,
reading, writing and culture so that they could easily identify their
strengths and weaknesses on an on-going basis. They would also always
know exactly what their overall semester grade was at any given point
in time.

This year we were told that while we could use Standards Based
Grading, that we HAD to average quarter 1 with quarter 2 grades and by
no circumstance could we include 1st quarter grades into the 2 quarter
portion of the gradebook. We tried to explain that you can't average
standards and they really aren't starting over with an A at the
quarter, as many teachers/administrators believe. That 1st quarter
grade is really still there - it just isn't transparent at the moment
but will come back in at the end since it still exists!

When our principal asked the higher ups in the district the principal
was told that they'd never heard of not averaging grades and that it
was not part of Standards Based Grading and we were completely wrong
to grade by semester (we even think the entire year as an on-going
grade but for conformity-sake start over at the semester since they
get recorded as a separate grade from the 2nd semester grade anyway).
We disagree with the "higher ups" having read your book, Wormeli's as
well as articles/books by Marzano and feel that the problem is that
the district is just not well versed in how Standards Based Grading
really works and why averaging defeats the purpose of grading based on
standards. Are we completely off base? And if we are not - how can we
explain this to the "higher ups" so that they will understand our
position? Thanks!



You are completely right and the 'higher-ups' in your district are completely wrong. You
are absolutely correct for standards-based grading because learning of each standard is
cumulative and developmental so when determining grades the more recent evidence must
be emphasized. When you are evaluating a student's skills in Spanish in January their
performance in September is irrelevant. The 'higher-ups' in your district who have never
heard of doing anything but averaging grades should look at the PowerTeacher grading
program in which the built-in default is more recent!