A Question on Assessment

Hey! I am looking for opinions on a topic that my cooperating teacher and I often talked about, the question of assessing students at different levels of learning.  When a teacher creates and assignment there is usually a very concrete assessment tool to go along with it such as a rubric or a rating scale for the finished product.  For the purpose of this post I will say there is a rubric being used to assess the student. Here is my question:

How do you assess students who may be further behind with their learning that have put an unbelievable amount of effort into the assignment, they’ve exceeded your expectations of how well that particular student would do, but they still don’t rank that high on the rubric.  You feel like they deserve 100% but on paper they only get 60%.  Same goes for a student who is an excelling learner.  They have put in minimal amount of work and you know that they could have done much better based on their other work.  On paper the could get 100% but judging by the student and how well they could have actually done you want to give them a lower mark just to show them that they can not stop putting effort in. 

Here is my opinion.  During internship I did a unit on Legends and the students wrote their own legends.  We came up with our rubric together so the students knew my expectations.  They had the option of doing different assignments to go along with their legend and some assignments were harder than others.  I had one student who usually does the minimal work, but he was creative and did the harder of the assignments.  He did phenomenal work compared to what he usually turns in but it still did not measure up to some parts of the rubric.  I was stuck between giving him the mark my rubric told me to give him, and the mark I knew he deserved.  I gave him the mark he deserved due to the unbelievabl amount of effort he put in.  My problem was, I had no proof on paper why he got that mark because I had to scrap bits of the rubric.  If I had been asked for proof by a parent, I didn’t have it. 

I want opinions.  Do you stick to the rubric, or do you base grades on the specific learners.  If you choose to base grades on the specific learners, when you get a parent asking why their child did poorly even though they met all the requirements how do you explain it?

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5 responses to “A Question on Assessment

  • Sue Downing

    Could you create the rubric with a section for effort?

  • Bethann

    Hey Brandee,

    This is a good question. In my experience during internship there was a student that was two grades below reading level (at a grade one level). It would not be fair to the student to be expected to be at grade level in language arts activities. I think that you have make the assignments and the rubric to be grade level appropriate. For example, on assignments in language arts I believe that you would need to make a rubric specifically for that student at a grade one level because that is where the student is at in reading. Although in other subjects like arts education and physical education, very little of those subjects require the student to be at grade level in reading so I would assess them the same as their classmates. I’m not sure if that makes sense but that is how I look at assessment.

  • Danielle Degelman

    I never really thought of this question until you posted it! I’m glad you gave your student the mark he deserved…I would’ve done the same thing. This is a tough question because my coop always told me to never put “effort” on a rubric or checklist. If learners are below grade level, then I believe that they would need a different rubric that assesses their ability to meet those specific outcomes. It would not be fair to expect them to meet the same outcomes of those at or above grade level.

  • srcampbell

    This is such a tough subject!
    I am often torn when assessing my students as well. If you assess a student in comparison to his/her peers or the expectations of a student at that grade level a student may never feel successful. However, if you assess a student based on his or her abilities, you may have a student with a 90% average applying to Universities even though s/he only ever achieved a grade 9 education level.
    It’s a very tough situation.
    Perhaps having two different types of assessment is the solution? One form of assessment that is based on the students abilities, and this one would appear on the students’ report cards and the grades sent home… And then another assessment based on the expectations of a student at that grade level, and these assessments can be kept in a CUM file? This way a student can still feel success in school?

  • kelseydawne

    The new push towards outcome based assessment has clarified my understanding of assessment. As teachers we strive to have all students meet the outcomes but sometimes that is not possible. We need to vary the desired learning goals of a lesson to meet the specific goals of students with exceptionalities. I found that if I made a rubric, I often had to include variations that took into considerations the different learning needs of all students. If the goal of one student is to put 100% effort into the task, then that should be part of my assessment for that student.

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