So it's been a few months. Turns out transitioning to evidence-based assessment was a bit time-consuming. Worth it, but time-consuming.
What is evidence-based assessment? Well, rather than semester grades being based on the average of tests, quizzes, homework, etc., grades are based on the evidence - any evidence - that the students produce throughout the semester to demonstrate that they understand a concept or can perform a skill. The evidence can be performance on a traditional test, a presentation in class, a mini-project...anything that demonstrates the student has learned the material. And the letter that gets placed on the report card is the result of a conference between the student and the teacher at the end of the semester. In short, the entire semester is a conversation between the student and the teacher, and during the final conversation a grade for the semester is discussed and determined.
OK, not really. There's a lot to say, so I'm going to break this up into several posts. For this first installment, here's an outline of what we did:
(1) We set up an electronic portfolio for each student. There was a "folder" for each standard, into which the students were to place any evidence they thought demonstrated their ability. If they presented an exercise during an in-class discussion that demonstrated their independent understanding of the material, they took a picture and placed it in the portfolio. If they made a short video at home in which they were able to show they understood the material, into the portfolio it went. If they showed their understanding on a checkpoint, I adjusted the progress mark in the portfolio accordingly.
(2) We still gave the regular checkpoints. If the checkpoint didn't go well, however, then it was up to the student to contribute to their portfolio to show that they had continued to work on the material and now had a solid understanding of it. This allowed the students to "redo" the checkpoints without us having to come up with alternate versions of the checkpoint.
(3) We had the students do a reflection, which we called a "self-assessment", several times during the semester. In these, we specifically asked the kids what "letter grade" they would give themselves to represent their current level of understanding of the material. We did this one final time at the end of the semester, and followed it up with a one-on-one conference. By the end of the conference, the student and I had decided upon a grade to place on their transcript. If we were unable to agree upon a grade, the student had one last opportunity - the final exam - to demonstrate their abilities. If we did agree upon a grade, then the point of the exam was to convince me that the portfolio we had just examined was, in fact, a true representation of their understanding.
In the next few posts I'll expand on each of the above, with information about what went right and what needs changed. The short version is this: yes, it went well, and yes, we're doing it again next year. The details are coming soon.