Chapter 3 Key Points Adding more categories to a grading scale (going from a 5-point scale to a 12-point scale) does not offer more precision or accuracy in describing students’ performance levels. In fact, it simply diminishes the reliability of the scores when adding more categories. Instead, there needs to be more clearly articulated performance criteria. Allowing separate grades for each standard would be better as well. Action Items As an educational leader I would really like to guide my staff to be as clear as possible in identifying the performance criteria first, which would mean digging deep into the standards and ensuring there is complete understanding of the learning standards first. This would help us in crafting performance criteria for the assessments we draft and/or choose, in addition to improving instruction on the standards. I would start with one subject area, reading or math, pick one priority standard, and try this for one assessment during that unit. I also really like the idea of having separate grades for each standard instead of having one cumulative grade for one subject area. This would more clearly communicate performance levels to students, parents, and teachers alike. This could be done in conjunction with clearly identifying performance criteria for a chosen standard. Once a PLC has unpacked a standard, identified the performance criteria for assessing that standard, the grade(s) given for that standard would be the grade reported on the grade card, separate from the cumulative grades for the other subject areas. Chapter 4 Key Points Normative-based grading is the process of assigning grades to students based on their relative standing compared to classmates such as grading on the curve or prescribed grade distribution. This practice creates highly competitive classrooms that aren’t conducive to a good learning environment and absolves teachers of their most basic duty – teaching. Action Items As an educational leader I would have to question teachers who have these practices in place – grading on the curve. What purpose does adjusting grades do? Who does it benefit? Who does it harm and why? What if we used the assessment we had to adjust grades for as a measure for how well students learned the content and how effective our teaching was on that topic? How can we make the performance criteria clearer for ourselves as we teach that unit/content, and for our students so they better understand what they are being asked to do? Chapter 5 Key Points Is it my purpose to select talent, or it to develop talent? Biggest takeaway from this chapter! If your purpose is to select talent you need to accentuate and maximize student differences – and the best way to do this is poor teaching. Students will either learn on their own or they won’t, therefore student variation will present itself easily and very noticeably. On the other hand, if your purpose is to develop talent you will intentionally engage students in structured learning opportunities to support various student learning modes and levels. Class ranking is simply helping college and university admission officers do their job, there is no need for high schools to do it. In fact, colleges and universities do not even find it very helpful anymore because there is so much variation among how high schools calculate their student rank. Selecting a class valedictorian is a practice simply steeped in tradition; colleges and universities do not find this helpful in admitting prospective students because they are more interested in the rigor of the curriculum and college prep courses students have had. Action Items I would lean into the first question mentioned – are we in the business of selecting talent or developing talent to guide our work in moving away from class ranking. As the author mentioned, developing clear models of excellence should be our main goal in the area of grading. This ties back to my first action item – developing clear performance criteria for each standard. Selecting a class valedictorian does not have to rely on normative grading practices – it can be a vote by a committee of faculty based on demonstrated traits and achievement.