On Assessment (IV) – SBG Gradebook

After all these posts on assessment, I needed to choose an SBG gradebook.  I quickly realized that the software I was looking at …. well, it just didn’t do it for me.  Both ActiveGrade and LearnBoost are excellent pieces of software. However, I wanted more flexibility than either one provided. I ended up kludging my own Google Docs.

In the process, I started thinking what ought to be the main characteristics of a good SBG gradebook. Here’s what I came up with.

(1)   The gradebook should make it very easy for the teacher to enter grades.

(2)   The gradebook should have flexibility in the grading scheme – it should allow the teacher to designate his/her own formula for computing grades.

(3)   Since this would be and SBG gradebook, it ought to be able to compute grades by Learning Objectives. Once a new Objective starts, the whole scheme for grade calculation should be applied to the new Objective, while keeping the details and average for the previous objective.

(4)   There should be a class view and a student view for the grades. The software must address the issue of grade confidentiality – a student should be able to access only his/her grades.

(5)   I am a fan of color coding grade ranges. I think many students would be proud to say “I moved from yellow to green” and it might just encourage some of them to try harder. In addition, by looking at the class view, the teacher can assess which LOs gave most trouble and re-teach them.

Points (2) and (4) gave me the most trouble. If one reads teacher blogs, it quickly becomes clear that there are many grading philosophies – from straight good old-fashioned averaging to “comments only”. Therefore, I can only speak for myself when I explain the grading scheme I came up with.

My goals were perhaps mutually exclusive: I wanted to encourage continuous, sustained effort, but I also wanted to incentivize the kids who did remediation work and re-assessment. I am planning to do cumulative assessment, so that each LO might be assessed 4 or 5 times, at different times during the semester.  To signal the importance of sustained effort, the last grade on an LO counts as 60% of the total grade for that LO.  The other 40% is an average of the previous grades for that LO. Therefore:

Current grade for a given LO = 0.4*(average of previous grades in that LO) + .6* (last grade)

Why .4 and .6? I don’t know – it could be .3 and .7, or 50-50, or plain averaging. I just wanted the flexibility to enter a formula and not to be locked in into a scheme embedded in a piece of software.

Here is the result of my effort.

Weaknesses? One that I see right now is that if a student did not take the quiz where the LO was tested the last time, I need to change my formula manually. For example, LO 1.1 appeared on a quiz last time on Nov 9, but “Jesse Darling” did not take it that day. Therefore the last grade he got in LO 1.1 was on the quiz taken on September 26 – this becomes the “last” grade and I have to change the formula manually to reflect this. I just don’t know how to code for the last value in a row (or column). Any help would be appreciated.

The other problem is with the student view. For the time being I decide to give each student a class ID which is not alphabetical or their own school ID. They will receive this ID from me, in their private school mail account. Then after each quiz, I delete the names and sort the rows by ID number. Then the students can see the whole class, but they would not know another student’s ID and grades except their own.

Like I said – a kludge. However, that’s the best I can do before school starts in ten days.

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