SBG in AP Statistics – Beginnings…

One of these days I am going to volunteer to be part of the Master Schedule team, because it is amazing (and puzzling) to me all the convolutions and changes that are taking place. We still don’t know what we will be teaching next year and school will be over in a week. There seems to be no taking account of the expertise and experience of the teachers and the idea seems to be just to shove students in a schedule and let the teachers adjust afterwards. When?  In August?  Perhaps, the underlying thought is that all teachers should teach with the same methods ANY math course, in other words that teachers are interchangeable. It seems to be the industrial, assembly-line model of education with all the silly testing and teacher evaluations based on exams that the exam takers have no stake in. But that rant is for another day.

Thankfully, the latest master schedule iteration still has me teaching AP Statistics and I want to share some of my thoughts on what I want to do with this course.

There are two new things that I want to introduce in the fall. The first is Standard Based Grading (SBG) and the second is melding the traditional curriculum with randomization techniques. In this post I want to share my thoughts on SBG.

From my reading, it seems there are two main pieces to SBG: first, assessing student progress through teacher-defined learning objectives (also known as “standards” or “learning targets”) and second, providing students with a structure to reassess their learning. As a consequence of reassessing,  SBG also requires that we rethink our grading system.

In defining the learning objectives (LOs), I rely on my textbook which I like very much. I am using “Statistics in Action” (SIA) by Watkins, Scheaffer and Cobb (the latter being an early and articulate champion of randomization methods in the teaching of statistics). The Instructor’s Guide for SIA has “goals” for each chapter and I take these to be my LOs. For example here are some LOs from the chapter on Exploring Distributions:

LO 1.14            Students will be able to interpret percentiles and read cumulative relative frequency plots

LO 1.15            Students will find areas under the standard normal curve

LO 1.16            Students will learn to convert values to z-scores (standardize)

LO 1.17            Students will learn to convert z-scores to values in the original units (unstandardize)

LO 1.18            Students will be able to use a table of normal distributions to estimate proportions and probabilities of events that come from a population that is normally distributed

As far as reassessment, I came up with the following nine points, taking into account the experience of other teachers as described in their blogs.

“Reassessment is voluntary. A student can reassess for specific learning objectives (LOs) if the following guidelines are met:

  1. Reassessment is for at most two LOs at a time.
  2. Students must show proof of remediation before a reassessment. This can take the form of completed HW, extra problems or other criteria established by the instructor.
  3. Reassessments will only take place two days a week, and only after school. We will establish the days and times at the beginning of the term.
  4. Students must make reassessment appointments 24 hours in advance and they must let the instructor know which LOs they plan to reassess.
  5. Students should reassess LOs in a timely manner, typically within two weeks of the original quiz return.
  6. Students should not schedule tutoring and reassessment in the same session.
  7. Students can not take more than three (3) reassessments for each LO.
  8. Students can not schedule reassessments in the week prior to the end of each grading period.
  9. Reassessment scores will replace the last score in the LO.”

In formulating these guidelines I tried to strike a balance between providing reassessment opportunities for students and making these reassessment a non-trivial process. I can see that reassessment – even when limited to three per LO – may mean that I make up lots of quiz problems and over the summer I want to see how I can solve this problem.

As far as grading is concerned, I am thinking seriously of using ActiveGrade. Their newest iteration of the software will come out June 15 and I will make a decision by then. The grading scheme I am inclined to use is that the latest assessment grade makes up 60% of the current grade and the previous grade is 40%.

SBG holds a lot of promises, but it also requires a lot of preparation. Who said that teachers just “take off” during the summer?

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