2022-23 Grading: Process & Growth

**Updated 3.8.23** with focus on potential
I began writing this post even before publishing last spring’s grading update, knowing full well that the year’s experience would result in some tweaks. At the time, I wrote how my system was “90% of the way towards equitable, time-saving grading that shifts focus to learning.” I’d say my latest updates have brought me up to a solid 97%. For example, the variety of standards and evidence I was collecting was good, but I found that I didn’t need separate standards introduced at different times. Thus, we’re back to something more straightforward: Process & Growth, every quarter, completely self-assessed & graded by students, plus the following details:

I’m trying out somewhat of an ungraded approach as part of a pilot research study. Instead of scores for individual assignments, I’ll mark them as “collected” (green check) and update Process and Growth standards accordingly until students self-assess & grade at the end of the term. This is not unlike my previous workflow, updating the standard when I get evidence of meeting it, or not (so there are no surprises come self-grade time), but the shift in focus away from numbers and grades at the individual assignment level is in line with the literature I’ve reviewed so far on grading practices. That’s an important shift in the ungrading process. So, this is what one of last year’s gradebooks would’ve looked like with just check marks:

As you can see, this gradebook still shows students who are missing work (orange squares), who were absent (green squares), and who are exempt from the work (purple diagonal). Unlike most ungrading approaches, though, the overall standards grades in the first two columns are seen all throughout the grading term. In a true ungraded approach, the grade isn’t entered until the end of the grading term, usually after a conference with the teacher. That places full focus on learning, not numbers. However, my compromise is to have an updated grade throughout the term to answer all the “how are they doing?” questions coming from parents, admin, and in-school supports without completely changing culture and expectations otherwise required by a true ungraded approach. My compromise still takes focus off of grades and scores for everything else, though, so I’m hopeful. Also, it’s a much cleaner look than what I had before. Compare the gradebook above with the busier one from that year:

As for the rubrics, to support the ungraded approach, I’ll be referring to these rubrics without grades or labels, and now just one level, a single-point rubric, throughout the term:

Then, when it comes time to self-grade at the first progress report, then each quarter’s end afterwards, Students just select their grade out of 55, 65, 75, 85, 95, or 100, and provide a rationale.

Student-driven Ownership
I found that I could be even more hands-off by having students gather their own evidence of learning. Instead of using a Google Form to collect *specific* assignments, students will now add their evidence to a Google Classroom assignment. When we first rolled this out earlier in the year, we had students add to a running portfolio (Google Doc) that was in a Google Classroom assignment with no due date. We ran into a number of problems. First, students were adding evidence directly to the assignment as a comment instead of into the Doc that was created when they opened the assignment. Second, we were using a Google Form to collect a rationale for what they chose to add. This combo created a lot of clicking tabs, and cross-referencing. For example, some students would add something as a comment, and also forget to do the Form. While a running Google Doc would be helpful for looking at the whole year, we decided to keep things contained by quarters. Thus, we’re having students add both their evidence and a rationale to the Google Classroom assignment directly. No extra Doc to access. No extra Form to fill out. Since we anticipate three pieces of evidence per standard (Process & Growth), having to search through six Google Classroom assignments at the end of the quarter is certainly doable. Besides, it’s automatically organized (vs. however students were choosing to format their own Doc in the first iteration). So, the prompts for adding evidence are:

  1. Add learning evidence that shows your Process (of Looking & Listening, and Responding/Showing/Asking) directly to this assignment. Look in the upper right hand corner for the [+ Add or Create] button to add pictures.
  2. Leave a comment explaining how what you added show your Process (of Looking & Listening, and Responding/Showing/Asking)**Optional** I’ve found that too much of this metacognitive thought can dilute emphasis, actually. I’ve moved these rationales to Progress Reports and Quarters only. After all, that’s still 8x during the year thinking about how well students are doing, which some findings suggest is already too many.

I create an assignment in the gradebook called “Process Learning Evidence #1,” and mark it as collected (or missing) accordingly. Since the portfolio is student choice, this is where variety comes in. For example, whereas last year’s Proficiency standard was based on exit tickets, we don’t need that as its own standard. I could be giving weekly “comprehension checks,” just not scoring them at all (re: no points). Therefore, a student could choose to add their results into their portfolio. Or not, and that’s fine. Naturally, students will benefit from examples. Here’s a list of possible evidence to add to the Google Classroom Assignment:

  • drawings
  • notebook pics (including writing down something specific from class that shows understanding)
  • comprehension checks
  • fluency writes
  • text annotations
  • etc.

The most laborious task for me last year was creating a Google Form that had students compare their experience reading two texts: one older, one newer. It dawned on me that I actually want to hear from students on this one, and it was another opportunity to have them gather their own evidence of learning. Since all of the texts we read aside from novellas are digital, in a single “Class Library” Google Doc, students could use that resource to show individual growth in a more personalized way. Instead of me deciding upon an anchor text I’d expect all students to understand, each student chooses their own, compares their reading experience, and explains their growth. The prompts for the Growth assignments are:

You’ll be choosing one older and one newer texts from your class bibliothēca, reading them, then explaining your growth.

  1. Choose 1 older text.
  2. Copy one section (your choice) from the text directly into this assignment’s “private comment” text box.
  3. Read that section.
  4. Choose 1 newer text.
  5. Copy one section of that newer text into the “private comment” text box.
  6. Read that section.
  7. Think about your reading experiences. What was it like reading the older text compared to what it feels like reading the newer text? In the “private comment” text box, below the text sections you copied, state your growth (A LOT, Growing, Staying the same, Fading, Really fading, or Falling behind) as it’s shown on the rubric being projected.
  8. In that same “private comment” text box, explain what’s easier or harder. Cite specific phrases.

**Update** At a certain point, the focus of growth becomes potential, so the Quarterly self-assessment rationales ask students to evaluate how well they’re meeting their own potential. The reason for this is that students tend to make growth no matter what, but I’ve had students phone it in, and just be like “yea texts are easier now.” That’s great, but what about possibility, right? To these students, Latin class appears very differently from other classes. Thus, I’ve projected this reminder, and will do so each quarter next year: At some point, you might think Latin is an easy class during which we don’t “do anything.” In truth, it will be you that stops doing things. Reading is a thing. Thinking is a thing. Understanding is a thing. Working with others is a thing. Doing your own work is a thing. Listening to what people have to say is also a thing. Taking ownership of your learning is a thing. Keep doing those things. That’s how to learn a new language (and other academic content, too).

Btw, here is the Growth rubric:

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