As part of my practicum course in my secondary mathematics credential program, I need to develop my assessment and grading policy for use when I start teaching this coming fall. It is a great assignment since it makes me consider: 1) how assessments will be conducted, analyzed, rated, communicated, used, and revised; against what criteria, and how often, as well as 2) what I believe assessments and grades ought to represent; that is, my beliefs and values about assessment and grades.
To that end, I value the following most as a teacher of mathematics:
- Students not giving up on their work, or themselves
- Students respecting themselves, others, and mathematics
- Students trying their best
- Students being open-minded
- Students developing and improving their general mathematical skills
- Students developing and improving their knowledge, understanding, and proficiency of mathematical procedure, concepts, and disposition
I believe the following are the most important purposes for teaching mathematics:
- Build a student’s self-confidence
- Develop a student’s awareness and use of general mathematical skills such as problem solving, reasoning and proof, communicating coherently, making connections, and modeling, or representing, ideas
- Prepare students for life, be it college, CTE, career, etc as math is a universal language and skill that we all need some basic proficiency with, as well as an understanding and appreciation of
Also, as you may know, I believe strongly in “assessment for learning” in addition to “assessment of learning.” Some distinguish these two uses by calling the former formative assessment and the latter summative assessment, with the former informing instruction and learning decision-making and planning, for the teacher and student, and the latter revealing cumulative learning, as of the assessment. Each of these can be further segmented for procedural, conceptual, and dispositional: knowledge, understanding, and proficiency. Procedural, in this case, refers to the mechanics of math, conceptual refers to the “big idea” that addresses certain “essential questions” of a topic, and dispositional refers to desired outlooks, approaches, and habits of mathematical thinkers. The following table is one way to look at these dimensions.
I also have the following beliefs and values for assessment (formative) and grading (summative):
With this as background, I created the following, tentative, assessment and grading policy.
The ratings are to be used for every assessment as opposed to a letter grade, x out of y score, or percent score. In addition to the ratings, students will have access to a rubric which explains the ratings. When possible, student specific comments will also be provided.
Students will be permitted to resubmit, or retake, as applicable, all work whether it is classwork, their project, learning segment assessments, or unit assessment. They will have to negotiate when they can resubmit, or retake, work since they need to learn that they will need to work around other’s schedules often in life. All classwork and learning segment assessments will serve as both formative and summative assessments.
Homework will be assigned but not collected or graded. Select problems will be discussed in class to aid with learning. Note taking will be required, but notebooks will not be stamped, collected, checked, or graded. Participation will not be graded, however, like homework and note taking, it will likely indirectly impact a student’s overall grade if they have not studied or prepared sufficiently. I do not plan to grade on improvement, per se, however, since I plan to allow students to revise their work, they will indirectly be rated on improvement. The same goes for effort. I also plan to be very flexible with promptness of work, within reason. Lastly, students will have to make up missing work.
A student’s final grade will be determined using the weighting noted above for each assignment category, however, before submitting any grades formally, I will conference with students on a one-on-one basis asking them what they feel their grade should be before I present their grade. Students may contest their grade at that time using any and all work they created in the class. If a grade is contested, I will review their submission, consider their comments, and decide accordingly.
I welcome feedback from teachers, math teachers or not, about this tentative policy. I am open to suggestions, critiques, etcetera, as long as we keep civility in our discourse. Matters of philosophy will be more difficult to consider, so I prefer a focus on practicality and issues I may have overlooked.