I’d like to give my students as many chances to learn as possible. When they’re interested, I’d like to sit with them forever. Unfortunately, there are some pretty significant logistical obstacles here.
Almost everyone who disagreed with my automated debater for SBG+ (+remediation, +forgiveness of earlier scores, +timely & empowering reporting) disliked the idea of throwing out old assessment scores. The most convincing criticism I’ve read is at GSWP (alternate link, scroll to bottom):
SBG aficionados believe in instantaneous noise-free measures of achievement. If a student takes a long time before they “get it”, but then demonstrate mastery, that’s fine. This results in the practice of replacing grades for a standard with the most recent one. I think that is ok, as long as the standard keeps being assessed, but if you stop assessing a standard as soon as students have gotten a good enough score (which seems to be the usual way to handle it), then you have recorded their peak performance, not the best estimate of their current mastery. Think about the fluctuations in stock prices: the high for the year is rarely a good estimate of the current price, even if the prices have been generally going up.
The author at GSWP points out that averaging multiple assessment scores together works under the assumption that those different assessments were measuring the same thing, and that students’ skill levels are essentially unchanging. I think this is why some of us have such a strong reaction against averaging. We like to think that our students learn and improve so much during our class that the first assessments they take have almost no correlation to what they understand at the end of the class.
So. Given that we have to choose a final score eventually, how do we do it?
I’ve written up a google doc with some ideas about different grade calculation methods. You can edit it by clicking here, or just read it (and what others have added) below.
*Update: argh, sorry, the “don’t require signin” button isn’t working. You’ll need a google account to edit & view. I guess Google is working on it.
I think my favorite (right now) is the decaying average, but I’ve never tried it on actual data. Please leave your thoughts in the doc (you can create a new table to include a different method altogether) or in the comments!