Uploaded by Martha Ayalla

On Your Mark chapters 3-5 summaries

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.