Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Assessing Fairly - Weighting Test Grades

One of the hardest aspects of teaching a course in the Humanities is grading, specifically essays and projects. No matter how many rubrics I create, there is still going to be some subjectivity.

Our school has been discussing weighting assessments based on a cumulative practice. Although the practice cannot cure issues of subjectivity, weighting as the semester progresses can make the final grade fairer. To be clear, this idea is not mine, however, I am currently implementing it.

In World Literature, there are only two tests during the semester and the final exam. The first test is worth 100 points, but the second test will be worth 150 points. Although the novels are different, the skills that I am assessing are the same. They have received repetitive instruction and practice, and thus their understanding should have increased since the beginning of the semester.

This is also true in ELL Ancient History. This course is geared for 9th graders or 10th and 11th graders who are completely new to studying in English. In addition to the language deficit, the students have to adjust to high school and the expectations. Therefore, their first major assessment is only out of 50 points, then 75, 100, 150, and so on.

I am not increasing the points value so drastically for every course. For example, in Middle East History, the first test is worth 75 points and the rest are worth 100 points. The semester exam is worth 20 percent of the grade. I am not increasing the numerical value for each test, because the material and methods vary so much from chapter to chapter. and the students are in 12th grade  However, the first test is worth less because even though they are seniors, they still need to get used to my style of teaching and testing.

Grading will never be a perfect science. However, I am always looking for ways to improve how I assess to better reflect student learning and achievement.

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