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Our district is fully embracing standards based grading at both
the middle school (6-8) and high school levels (9-12). To this
end, we have adopted retakes, rubric scoring, and a grade based
100% on summative assessments. In particular, the grade will now
only be based on an average of the last three summative
assessments for each of the benchmarks (standards) that are
assessed for a class. I believe that this "last three" concept is
referred to as recency, so that is how I will refer to it here.

I understand how recency applies in a class such as a foreign
language or literature class. I am having a harder time
understanding the value of recency in a high school science class.
For example, if the functions of a plant cell are taught at the
beginning of the semester (say in unit 1) and the functions of an
animal cell are taught at the end of the semester (say in unit 4),
then the student's knowledge of the plant cell will only be
minimally assessed as it appears on the cumulative semester final
(by definition, the final is the third summative assessment in all
HS classes). But a student's understanding of a plant cell will be
important if the student intends to take a university level
science course.
I have done a bit of research on this and I know that part of the
answer is that the ability to regurgitate facts is the lowest
level of intelligence so it should not be assessed. Nonetheless,
sometimes memorization of facts is necessary to, in this case,
understand the language of science and thus move on to higher
level scientific thinking.
I would greatly appreciate your input here. I am struggling.



Sounds like your district is moving in some appropriate directions on grading but a rigid
approach such as you describe - average of last three summatives - is not appropriate.
Evidence should be collected based on standards (not assessment methods) and the grade
for each standard should be determined by the most consistent level with emphasis on the
more recent.




Thank you for your input. We are receiving a grade for each benchmark. For example, in a three benchmark class, there would be three grades associated with each assessment. I am sorry because I don't think I clearly stated that.

I think perhaps where I am confused is in the definition of a standard (we call them benchmarks). How should these be defined? For example, in my son's HS physics class, the benchmarks being tested are:
1. Understand, analyze, and evaluate scientific concepts.
2. Apply scientific concepts.
3. Perform and communicate results of scientific investigations.

When you say standard, is this what you mean? Or is a standard a more specific skill, defined for each class? For example, in my biology example in my first message, might the standard be something like "explain the functions of a plant cell."

Thank you again for your input.

The Grade Doctor's


Terminology varies so it really depends on usage in your school district. It often goes with increasing specificity from Domain or Strand to Standard to Benchmark (bot not always). Ultimately what matters is what is done in your school/district. In the example you gave I would call the "benchmarks" - strands or standards and the specific example - a standard or a benchmark. I hope this is not too confusing - or confused!

Roger Curtis's


Why? Or perhaps you missed the part of the assessments covering different content. Otherwise, it's a bit like saying that while you've failed a G driving license test, passed the M test and squeaked through the Z test you should, therefore, get all three because of most recent results? I hope not.

Roger Curtis

The Grade Doctor's


Depends what is on the three tests. If the Z and/or M tests covers everything that is on the G test then there is no need for the student to retake the G test. If each is unique and critical then all three tests would need to be taken/passed.