Great teaching? Only if they’re learning

He’s a great teacher, but when he was explaining calculus, I really couldn’t understand it. He ran a good workshop, but when one of the teachers didn’t get something, he just explained it the same way again. Is anyone else confused? I heard both of these comments this summer — just part of casual backyard…

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Proficiency-based grading: Still more questions than answers

Every time I think I’ve wrapped my head around proficiency-based grading, I encounter a new question, and I’m lost all over again. At my school, we’ve had a training session and a few meetings since I last blogged about my personal transition (What is a 3, anyway?). During staff training, we all read a blog…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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