The Mark

Well, the day has finally come. Or almost come anyway. The day I must assign the little cherubs a mark. To help them sort through our lists of outcomes, I’ve agreed to give the students a summative unit “mark” (which they could easily do themselves, but have a hard time picking out the more important outcomes from the less important ones.) This also will save paper for our last report card since this thing is a freaking encyclopedia. However, I’m still not giving a number grade. The students need to arrive at our exit inteviews with that in mind, and be prepared to defend their choice of grade using evidence from throughout the year.

That being said, they would like “brackets” of the mark range for each of our scale. My gut tells me to give them the following, even though it’s wonky. So, I’ll explain it all and you pretend you’re my students and provide some feedback please 🙂

Exceeding 90-100%

Initially I thought this bracket should be from 85-100%, but in order to have earned an exceeding students didn’t just have to do really well on a particular outcome, they actually had to extend their learning past the curricular expectations for grade 9 in some way. Since I only awarded exceedings in this way during the year, it makes sense to me that this is such a narrow bracket.

Meeting 75-90%

Meeting was mastery of a curricular outcome, typically shown on more than one assessment.

Beginning to Meet 40-60%

This is my oddest bracket by far as it straddles that magical 50% low achievers strive for. I’m really not comfortable saying that beginning is 50-75 though, as by the standards I was holding my students to all year was that beginning meant additional work and a reassessment were necessary. Beginning = Not meeting = keep working. The only reason (in my mind) that I have a distinction between Beginning and Not Meeting is so students can know if they are on the right track or totally out to lunch. I mostly hope they know this without me pointing it out, but their parents might not so to me this is a helpful distinction.

Not Meeting <50%
The conversation about the shades of grey of Not Meeting (just how badly am I failing?) seems like a conversation for another place and time. The very few students I have in this boat will be repeating the course, end of story. I’m not clear on what the difference between 15% or 38% in this instance is.

Now, this isn’t to say I don’t think students won’t end up with marks between 60-75%, but I think these happen from a combination of Beginnings and Meetings across our different areas of study. Am I insane? Do let me know!


8 thoughts on “The Mark

    1. In my mind that “beginning to meet” category can spread across the area of not quite passing to barely passing depending on what’s going on. The idea here is that students have attempted something, somehow and are at least in the right ballpark (and not just writing down random, not related numbers or sentences).

      “Not meeting” is just failing, so traditionally below 50%. The numbers here mean nothing to me personally. I’m super curious to see how the small handful of students living in this zone will reason themselves out a mark…

  1. What is the origin of the percentages? You say you aren’t giving a number grade, but you are basing your final mark upon numbers. It begs the question posed above.

      1. Okay, so I’m guessing that you are first categorizing them into these 4 brackets and then assigning a percentage? I’m just trying to get a feel for your assessment of your kids. I did something similar years ago and found it very difficult to make it fit a number.

      2. So the students currently have NM, B, M, or E on all the course outcomes. To help them I’m going to give them an overall unit summary since all outcomes are not necessarily equal within the units. Since they are in grade 9 and not as familiar with percentages as older students I’ve done this with, they have asked for brackets around the NM, B, M and E.

        I’m not assigning marks, the students are deciding their own marks based on their evidence. It’s way easier 🙂

  2. “… be prepared to defend their choice of grade…” I tried this [informally] with the kids one year and found that they were refreshingly honest and were actually tougher critics than I would’ve been.

    I’m thinking through your NM, B, M, and E ranges with my students right now, and I can almost “slot” the kids into each of these based on everything we’ve done. Your post gives me more to think about. (I dread grading more than sin, so any idea to make this a more honest, fair, worthwhile, student-owned process, then I’m all ears.) Thanks!

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