What is a 3, anyway?

In the world of standards-based grading, a 3 means proficient. Does that means it’s kind of like a C? Or more like a B? Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. It does. It has to go in the gradebook. In late August, I wrote this post about my first foray into the world of proficiency-based…

Read More

Time to assess this new grading system

At my high school, we’ve changed our grading practices at least six times in recent memory. It all started with requiring common assessments and grading scales for each course. Then came a school-wide grading scale, with 93% for an A. Then we removed behavioral and other non-academic considerations from grades. That meant even truant (or…

Read More

Why I actually like AP season

There are a lot of reasons people hate the AP (Advanced Placement) program. To start with, the stress of AP testing season, which is upon us. Then the fact that some colleges no longer give credit for passing AP tests, so it feels like wasted money. Some people hate AP because they don’t believe high…

Read More

The grading is the hardest part

For all the time we spend talking about assessment, we don’t spend nearly enough of it talking about time. I mean the time it takes to grade everything. In an ideal world, our work would look like this: Students learn a new concept, like the flaws of Keynesian fiscal policy. Students have several opportunities to…

Read More

The teacher’s way is rarely the only way

Last week, I asked a few hundred of my former journalism students: Did you ever feel like you received an unfair grade in high school? If so, why was it unfair? I asked them to share their stories with me, and I received just one — from Alistair. His experience is good food for thought,…

Read More

New grading schemes seem logical, but do they improve student learning?

I have one question for anyone promoting an overhaul of their high school grading system: How will it impact your students’ mindset, motivation, and learning? OK, maybe that’s three questions wrapped in one. But I feel like these are questions nobody is asking, and I want answers. If we’re investing time, money and teacher energy…

Read More

Let’s get serious about stereotype threat

It’s been 20 years since Steele and Aronson first published their work on “stereotype threat,” demonstrating that we are profoundly influenced by internalized cultural stereotypes about ourselves. Since then, more than 300 peer-reviewed experiments have found similar results. Time and time again, we find that individuals perform worse in school, limit their career options and…

Read More

AP test scores are out… So what?

I am one of those nerdy teachers who cannot wait to check her students’ AP scores in July. Pass rates, distributions, average scores — it’s all interesting data to me. I always want to know how my latest cohort of students compares to previous groups, whether I’m reaching my goal (93% with a 3 or…

Read More

What makes history stick

When I was in high school, I found history pretty dull. We spent a lot of time listening to lectures, watching filmstrips, taking notes, and regurgitating facts onto tests. Only a small fraction of our time was spent debating historical questions (should we have dropped the bomb?) or participating in simulations (like a constitutional convention)…

Read More

The elusive promise of ‘choice’

School-choice advocates are cheering the nomination of Betsy DeVos to head Trump’s Department of Education, while public school proponents are worried about what her leadership would mean for the future of public education. What is it about charter schools and voucher systems, which DeVos unabashedly supports, that makes them so divisive? Why do many conservatives…

Read More