Separating Grading From Assessing & Quizzing In 6 Steps

The concept is simple: you establish criteria students must meet in order to get an A in the class, but keep traditional assessments out of it, completely.

Keanu: “Whoa.”

Sure, you can still give quizzes if you want. You can even score them and provide feedback, too. Truth is, none of that is necessary to set expectations for class, and for students to meet those expectations. Here’s the process…

1) Expectations
Establish what you expect students to do, and write that into a rubric template like the one below (e.g. read every day). Here are mine, which don’t need to change, surprisingly, for remote learning!

2) Evidence
Determine what counts as evidence of what you expect students to do. Then, give students a place to report it on a weekly basis, like using a Google Doc or Form:

3) Gradebook
After students send you evidence, report in the gradebook weekly. Use a 0% grading category for this so you can see trends over time. The actual grade comes from a 100% grading category, self-assessed by students, but adjust the course grade weekly to reflect current evidence (e.g. don’t leave a students grade at 95 for weeks upon weeks if their evidence doesn’t show meeting expectations).

4) Self-assess
Give students a 95 to start the year, make any weekly adjustments, then at the end of the grading term, students self-assess how well they met expectations using the rubric in step 1. All you gotta do is check that self-assessment against their evidence, and change accordingly. N.B. if you see students aren’t meeting expectations, certainly update the gradebook before it’s time to self-assess. No surprises.

5) *Actual Assessing*
Do this every day during live classes, noticing signs of incomprehension, and adjust with immediate feedback making the target language more comprehensible. N.B. you cannot assess language this way asynchronously. Instead, you’re likely just quizzing. That is, there’s no immediate feedback and adjustment. The moment has passed.

6) Quizzing
This has no impact on a student’s grade, or at least it doesn’t have to if students already meet course expectations. N.B. The only way this would have an impact would be if you established that a student needed to get 90 and above on all quizzes to meet expectations and get an A in the class. If you really, really, really love traditional grading, go ahead. Traditional quizzing within the whole system described will still be easier to determine a course grade rather than tracking and averaging individual scores.

Give quizzes whenever you want, giving you whatever data you think you need. For example, students need input. They don’t ever NOT need input. Alternatively, you might get data suggesting students need something else, or you need to do something else. Don’t fall into that trap. They don’t, and you don’t. The adjustment is always reading and listening to more target language (RLMTL). You don’t need quizzes to tell you that.* But give quizzes if you want to give quizzes. Their scores just don’t need to be a part of meeting expectations—the course grade.

*I also suspect this holds true for other content areas. For example, do students need to do 20 math problems on their own, have errors corrected, then repeat, or “reassess?” Or, do they need to see 50…or 100 math problems being done before they understand the concept and can do just 5 perfectly, or as well as developmentally appropriate? With languages there’s input and exposure. What is that to other content areas?

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