Saturday, November 27, 2010

Outcomes first, perfection second.

To achieve a 100% in a class, the student will have to be perfect. In my school, our grades are based on a 100 point scale, most commonly called percentage based. I recently marked some exams and a student in my class received a 97% due to the fact he answered one multiple choice question wrong.

I then asked myself, "Am I not supposed to be assessing outcomes and not perfection?".  Looking at his work, I realized his only mistake on the exam was that he squared a negative number and kept the answer negative. Solving the question this way, led him to a "distractor", and thus a wrong answer.  This test was in my calculus class, and squaring a negative number was not an outcome that was meant to be tested.

The question I ponder is, "doesn't he deserve a 100%?". Looking at the entirety of his exam, he truly demonstrates he understands all of the outcomes tested and all he is showing, in my mind, that he is not perfect.  Should I be grading him based on how he does each question, or should I be looking for mastery of the outcome in a holistic fashion? 

Next term, I am wanting to implement a new way of grading, which will be outcome based. This will allow for students to achieve mastery but still hold true to human nature and not be perfect.  We, as educators,  need to realize that students can truly demonstrate mastery of concepts with imperfections.  Once this idea is understood we can then put outcomes first, and perfection second or even never.

1 comment:

  1. I love the thoughts. I will sheepishly admit that I still do at times grade daily homework. But I am quickly swinging over to the other side of the "No grading" spectrum. Last year was my first year at a new school and I used this change to "blank slate" many of my beliefs/philosophies. For the first few units that I did grade, it was possible for the students to earn a 100 even if they missed 1 or 2 of around 20 problems. The looks on their faces attested to the fact that they thought I was bonkers. But I explained that human nature must allow for some small errors, many of which they would easily find when they reviewed their work. This eased the anxiety, and actually allowed kids to relax, learn more, and take more responsibility/accountability for what they knew and didn't know.

    This Texan sure is glad he stumbled across your site tonight.