Sunday, August 15, 2010

Formative vs. Mastery

In doing some research on grading for mastery, I ran across this quotation from a recent Phi Delta Kappan article titled "Eight Steps to Meaningful Grading" by Heather Deddeh, Erin Main, and Sharon Ratzlaff Fulkerson:
Grades earned in traditional grading systems are usually based on a combination of formative and summative assessments. With standards-based grading, grades are based solely on summative assessments designed to measure content mastery.

So now I've come to a roadblock. I love what I've learned from Grant Wiggins, Alfie Kohn, and Dylan Wiliam about formative assessment, giving students multiple opportunities and venues to practice their learning. However, I also see the value in grading for mastery, that a student's grade should reflect what they've learned, not penalize them for the time it took the student to learn that information. So how do I reconcile what Deddeh, Main, and Fulkerson identify as two opposite ways of grading?

How do I practically set up my gradebook and assignments to reflect what students have learned in my class?

5 comments:

Clix said...

Well remember that assessment isn't the same as grading. So you can include lots of formative assessment, but then just weight it lightly, and weight the summative assessments a lot more. Or give them the opportunity to review with you and then re-do the summative assessment to show additional gains (or do another assessment that's similar).

Mardie said...

My understanding of formative assessment is that it is used to 'inform' both the teacher - regarding subsequent instruction- and the student - regarding areas of strength and need. A final grade, is thus not a 'formative' assessment, but a summative one. Since our system is based on mastery of the curriculum, we've been advised to use the most recent and most prevalent grades in order to provide an accurate and holistic summation of the student's ability.

Healigan said...

Hmmmm. Mastery is the ultimate assessment at my school, but since I am an English teacher, I weight it almost even with formative at the beginning of the year, and lessen the formative percent as the year unrolls. If I had to assign separate assignments, I'd say homework (when it is not primarily reading) and process assignments are formative. The final product is mastery. Will be thinking on this. Thanks.

Mr. B-G said...

What is "mastery?" Is it even possible? As a high school kid - albeit a somewhat successful one at that - I'm not sure I was ever a master at anything...

Isn't the idea of education growth? It would seem, then, that "mastery" is at odds with its fundamental purpose.

Ms. Ward said...

Wow! Thanks for such great feedback. I, too, am a big believer in formative assessment. Here's what I'm wondering about how I set up my gradebook in terms of this idea of mastery: would it make sense to record formative grades temporarily or make it so that they do not count towards the quarter or semester grade? I wonder this because I wonder if my more formative grades (like responses to discussion questions and online posts, paragraph responses, etc.) are a fair assessment of what students actually learn. I use a lot of formative assessments that I assign points to and I'm thinking this goes against the idea/goals of formative assessment. What do you think?

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