Harrell on Assessment

Since last May, Robert has nurtured a thread on this site about the Three Modes of Communication (ACTFL). Vastly simplified, what I am hearing him say in this thread is that we are moving into a time, an unavoidable time, when what kids do in our class in terms of showing up as human beings (Robert uses the term being good citizens) counts.
When this idea first showed up here a few years ago, not a few teachers were of the opinion that grades should remain completely in the academic realm. I remember getting confused about that. Maybe they were right. But they couldn’t have been, because of soemthing I felt, some piece of intuition that wouldn’t stop telling me that how my kids interacted with me in class counted for a lot, for a huge amount, and should be a significant part of their grade.
So now, two years later, here is Robert writing in a comment turned into a blog post today the following – I challenge every one on this blog to implement some form of the second paragraph into their grading process immediately. Look how easy it is:
…[Chris] needs documentation and leverage with the administration and parents. That’s where the Interpersonal Communication grade comes in. By having a rubric of what this looks like, he has an “objective academic assessment” that aligns with the Standards and ACTFL guidelines. Given a weak administration, he needs the backing of the full force of the foreign language establishment. Just as Chris noted the behavior and needed to call the parents, he needs to put a mark in the grade book for failure to meet the standard.
What I am finding is that if I start all students at Proficient and get buy-in for playing the game, I need to keep track only of significant deviations from that. The stars will stick in your mind because they are the stars and will get Advanced grades. The students who are quiet will probably evaluate themselves more harshly than you will, so giving them a better grade than they think they earned will not be a problem (besides, discussing the discrepancy gives you an opportunity to tell them you appreciate their quiet participation). That leaves a very small group in each class (usually only 1 or 2) that you need to document. It doesn’t hurt to keep a journal of some sort in which you note behavioral issues each day….



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