Teachers Explore Sound Grading Practices

posted Feb 26, 2015, 4:38 PM by BGPS Web   [ updated Mar 2, 2015, 4:55 PM ]

Teachers Explore Sound Grading Practices

February 26, 2015

During professional development on Wednesday, Battle Ground Public Schools' middle school teachers tackled standards based grading with Myron Dueck, an international educator and expert on sound grading practices and assessment for learning.

Teachers listened as Dueck presented his philosophies on homework, grading, and lesson planning, and then broke into groups by school to reflect on their grading practices.

"It's another step in our efforts to align our work so that we are all using the same vocabulary with the same meaning behind our words," said Paula Koehler-Martin, the district's executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development. "As teachers come together, they can more effectively collaborate on creating learning experiences for our kids."

Dueck has been working with Maple Grove teachers to help them bring consistency to their grading practices and bring homework into alignment with the learning that is happening in the classroom. The group has been using Dueck's book, "Grading Smarter, Not Harder," as a key piece of their professional development on sound grading practices. This week's professional development presentation expanded the discussion on sound grading practices to middle school teachers across the district.

In his presentation on Wednesday, Dueck specifically highlighted the issues that many students face in the home―poverty, depression, hunger and violence―that can negatively impact learning. Dueck explained that teachers can increase student learning by creating a streamlined classroom environment that focuses on clear learning targets and outcomes rather than homework performance or extra credit. He suggests schools adopt a philosophy that focuses on grading practices that show students' true understanding of learning outcomes and one that emphasizes out-of-classroom support such as before and after-school tutoring. This philosophy moves the emphasis away from getting points for homework completion and more toward individual students demonstrating their learning.

Dueck's thoughts on lesson plans is that they are important to the identification of clear learning targets that should be established first, and then assessments should be developed based on those targets, and learning is what happens in between.

Dueck's visit to Battle Ground Public Schools is aligned with the district's professional development plan, which emphasizes standards based grading, use of formative assessment and professional learning communities. This year, the district implemented standards based reporting for students in its kindergarten through fourth grades. The first standards based report card went home with students earlier this month.