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Think Outside the Grade Book

The district in which I work, like most other districts in my state and around the country, has adopted a new framework for teacher evaluation. Many teachers were scared when the change to the framework was first mentioned. What if this new framework was a “gotcha” plan to weed out teachers administrators no longer wanted? What if the ratings were not what the teachers thought they should be? What if this new “tool” was really the government’s way of kicking us all out of teaching forever with no chance of ever getting back in?? The hallways were buzzing for days. But then we all settled in and realized that the framework we were working within was actually helpful and pretty darn accurate. It’s not perfect, but we all adapted rather quickly.

We are currently working with the Danielson Framework in my district, and amid this rollover to Ms. Danielson’s system, I thought it might be interesting if we changed our grading practices of the students to reflect more accuracy as well. Just as an example, what if we took Danielson’s ideas for the working professional (teacher, in this case) and adapted it to a grading system for students? What might that look like? Let’s take a quick peek at a few examples.

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation

Knowledge of Content
Essential Questions: Does the student know the content or not?
Assessment Style: Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, matching, etc.
Grade Type: Percentage, total points

Knowledge of Students
Essential Questions: Is the student aware of their own learning style/learning process? Does the student know how to approach learning content and learning skills in a way that works for them? Is the student aware that others learn differently? Does the student demonstrate working within their learning style successfully?
Assessment Style: Anecdotal notes from the teacher that present evidence, student reflections, rubrics
Grade Type: Rubric scale

Outcomes
Essential Questions: Is the student setting goals for him- or herself? Is the student able to set goals for him- or herself that are appropriately challenging? Does the student set goals for him- or herself that reflect their learning and working versus their compliance? Does the student set goals that are clear?
Assessment Style: Anecdotal notes from the teacher that present evidence, student reflections, rubrics
Grade Type: Rubric scale

Knowledge of Resources
Essential Questions: Does the student know how to access resources that are necessary for his or her learning? Is the student able to align these resources with the learning outcomes they set for themselves? Does the student choose and use resources that are appropriately challenging?
Assessment Style: Anecdotal notes from the teacher that present evidence, student reflections, rubrics
Grade Type: Rubric scale

Designing Coherent Instruction
This component of the framework is very teacher-specific. Since the students are learners and not teachers, it would not be fair to assess them on a component they would never encounter unless a specific lesson called for it. In that case, a rubric would be created using Danielson’s framework and it would be given to the students.

Designing Assessments
Essential Questions: Does the student know the difference between formative and summative assessments? Can the student create ways to formatively assess him- or herself? Can the student use formative and summative assessments to reflect upon their own work ethic, knowledge, and skill abilities?
Assessment Style: Anecdotal notes from the teacher that present evidence, student reflections, rubrics
Grade Type: Rubric scale

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list of essential questions, assessment styles, and grade types (plus, there are three more domains to cover…), nor is it the only type of grading system that begins to truly assess what is important to employers, but it is meant to offer you a new way of looking at grading systems and what is important when it comes to what we assess and how we assess it. Teachers are working citizens of the community and their students will be soon, too. Why not assess them using a system that is used in the real world?

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