In his article How grading reform changed our school, author Jeffrey Erickson (2011) discusses the development of very important educational reform. The article describes the way of reforming the educational process done by the author and the school staff. The reform takes place at Minnetonka High School, Minnesota, USA. This reform is about changing the system of assessment of the students. Initially, the main shortcomings of the conventional assessment system in the school were selected. Such an education system was affected by the things related to education and those which had little to do with the knowledge of the students and its evaluation.
Why Do We Need Grading System Reform in Schools?
At the beginning of the 2000s, it became clear that the school needed to reform the system of students evaluation. The analysis of methods of students assessment by teachers shows that they are different depending on the class. And they have a wide range of evaluation techniques. The parents of students insist that assessment should be transparent and understandable. The author insists that the main idea of changing knowledge assessment is that we need to evaluate just what students know and can do (Eriskson, 2011). And this motif was the impetus for his team.
The author of the article refers to an inadmissible element in the educational process, such as inflating grades. In the old grading system, students could earn their extra points not for knowledge, but for action, not related to science and education. If a student brings to the classroom any useful thing, for example, a box of tissues, it can count on extra points. There were a lot of cases in the school with almost 2900 students. It makes the studying process some sort of game. It should also be noted that teachers use the curving grades method widely and it's quite popular. As a result, for example, tests marks can be really high
Deflating grades as the inflating grades is also an inadmissible element in the educational process. The author points to factors not related to the potential of the student. Such factors as bad behavior, absence in the classroom, or averaging the results can lead to a reduction in the assessment.
How to Change School Grading System: New Methods
The author insists that the introduction of new methods of evaluation led to revising both inflating and deflating grades. The evaluation was divided into two main categories: formative, which includes not more than 15 percent of the total evaluation, and summative which includes 85 percent of the evaluation. The formative category shows students' progress in developing the study up to the final exam. And the summative category is divided into 4 general evaluations.
Also, according to the article, the old curving system was replaced. In the past teacher was making the adjustment to the test results. Nowadays teachers dont use tests for scoring the students. The problem with the issues of behavior and absences was solved by interesting innovations. For example, the grade was not reduced for missing the lessons. But instead, the staff member contacts the student in order to find the reason for absences.
The homework was always a part of the grade. A student could receive good marks after completing a streak of homework sentences and bad marks when passing the summative test. After the change, the teachers dont score the homework. They began to give questions according to the previous homework in order to make progress in students' knowledge.
Why It's Important to Allow a Student to Retake a Test?
The author goes on to say that giving numerous chances to the students to show what they know is very important. Retake is crucial for the students. The main idea of the retake test is a possibility for the students to make a correction work after the first test. The student should find out himself or with the help of the teachers what was wrong and misunderstood. And only after the teacher sees that the student realized his mistake, he can offer a retake of a test. It's important to allow a student to retake a test because every student can make a mistake because of many reasons, but everyone can have a second chance which may motivate students and make them stop feeling anxious because of grades and start to think about knowledge.
Every year, the reform of evaluation is improved and deeply embedded. The researchers conclude that the main cause of the course study failure is not a lack of understanding of the material but the lack of the work done. And so the decision was necessary to require students to do the work. The work could be finished during the breaks and free time. To monitor the work progress, teachers could call the parents of those students who were required to complete the work. This persistence has brought positive results.
How to Improve Teaching Skills of Teachers?
The article further states that to maintain the reform of assessment teachers need to improve their teaching skills. Due to the reform, teachers have new features. First of all, the author talks about the students' management, the organization of the scientific process, depending on the level of knowledge, and a new kind of assessment. The school set up a team that deals with issues of professional development of the school. The purpose of the team is to provide monthly meetings with teachers to share the results of research and to exchange experiences.
How to Change Old Education System?
Erickson also believes that the old and familiar education system was comfortable for the students, their parents, and teachers. A lot of time was spent on the reform itself. And also, it was necessary to explain to the students and their parents that such reform will not lead to a deterioration of evaluation. After the first semester of using a new type of evaluation, it became clear that the concerns of parents did not materialize.
What should be noted is improved academic success. The reform has changed the situation in the school. All the elements of assessment that are not related to the scientific process were eliminated and replaced with innovative ones.
The author of the article concludes that new school reform in Minnetonka High School in Minnesota helped to change the philosophy of learning at all stages.
Erickson, Jeffrey A. "How Grading Reform Changed Our School." Educational Leadership 69 (2011): 66-70.
N. Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA 22311-1714. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.
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