Nicki Berger (Robl) Kathryn Oswood Heidi Riehl Karen Rochon Tyler Stevenson Karin Stringer Tom Sturm The model of education from its earliest times was one of mentorship with no grading system. They worked on a pass/fail model. This included people like Plato, Michelangelo, Galileo, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin (2005). The teacher and the student had a relationship that made it possible for the teacher to have a clear vision of the student’s understanding (2005). The most impressive demonstration that a person was educated was not a GPA or the name of the institution attended, but the name of their teacher. Students of the great teachers of history often became famous themselves because of the thoroughness with which their mentors had passed on knowledge, understanding, skill and talent (2005). William Farish, a tutor at Cambridge University in England, is given credit for being the first teacher to establish a grading system. He came up with a method of teaching that would allow him to process more students in a shorter period of time and therefore make more money (2005). In the United States, Yale University was the first to implement a system resembling our current grading system. Yale kept student information in what is called a Book of Averages. It recorded the average of each student’s marks-a procedure still used in figuring course grades today-and mentions a 4-point scale (2009). It was in 1897, at Mount Holyoke College, that letter grades, tied to a numerical or percentage scale, were first used (2009). In the first part of the 20th century, due to an increased number of students in schools because of compulsory attendance laws, the American elementary and high school education systems began using standardized grading systems (2009). Before the enactment of public 94-142 (2007), the fate of many individuals with disabilities ended up in state institutions for persons with mental retardation or mental illness. In 1967, for example, state institutions were homes for almost 200,000 persons with significant disabilities. These persons with disabilities were merely accommodated rather than assessed, educated, and rehabilitated (2007). Initial Federal Response -in the 1950’s & 60’s- the Federal Government, with strong support and advocacy of family associations, such as The Arc, began to develop and validate practices for children with disabilities and their families. These practices, in turn, laid the foundation for implementing effective programs and services of early intervention and special education in states and localities across the country (2007). Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142), in 1975, to support states and localities and protecting the rights of, meeting the individual needs of, and improving the results for students with disabilities. It is currently called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), (2007). Grading systems used in general education classes are usually ill-equipped for individualization to meet the needs of a particular student. Research has documented that special education students in general education classes are at risk of receiving low or failing grades (2003). Under the IDEA all students with disabilities are entitled to a written statement of present educational performance, measurable annual goals, and special education services and accommodations. This is known as an Individualized Education Program (IEP), (2003). General and special educators often fail to collaborate effectively to coordinate the general grading system with the accommodations and modifications required under a student’s IEP (2003). Legally then, we have an obligation to grade students in accordance with their IEP goals. But grading is an overwhelmingly arbitrary process. 50% of teachers surveyed in a study by Bursuck et. al., in 1996, used grading adaptations for students without disabilities. It is little wonder then teachers struggle with how to grade those WITH disabilities fairly. A consequentialist might say that adapting student grades or standards to which they are held is okay. It helps out the student that needs accommodation and no one is much harmed in the process. The action of accommodation helps more students than it hurts. A non consequentialist might say that this process of modification is wrong that all students should be graded on an even plane. It is wrong to change one student’s grade and not everyone’s grade. C.S. Lewis might say that through our grading process we are treating students more as a means than as a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God. Parker Palmer would argue that we are smarter when we all work together and that grades create nothing but competition and untruths. “The deepest calling in our quest for knowledge is not to observe and analyze and alter things. Instead it is personal participation in the organic community of human and non human being, participation in the network of caring and accountability called truth” (1993). “Tommy is a fifth grader with a learning disability that severely affects his ability to organize and write responses to questions. He has just received his first report card grades since be included in the general education social studies class. Tommy’s teachers made several instructional adaptations for him, including providing him with study guides prior to tests. As he glances over his grades, Tommy is crestfallen to see the D in the social studies box. He knew he had not done well on the longer written tests in class, but he had worked hard to prepare, and he had regularly and completed all of his homework and in- class projects“ (2004). Was it fair to give Tommy a “D” in Social Studies? How should Tommy be graded? If we assume that grades are a way to indicate a student’s achievement then Tommy should be given a letter grade after mutually (parents, teachers, students) agreed upon adaptations have been made to accommodate his disabilities. Research by Bursuck et al in 1996 and Bursuck, Munk and Olson in 1999, as cited in Munk and Bursuck, 2004 indicates: Passing students no matter what they do is unfair and will discourage effort by those students as well as their peers. Teachers and students see a grading adaptation as fair when agreed upon before hand 50% of teachers surveyed used grading adaptations for students without disabilities. This indicates that teachers see modifying grades as a way to make grading more accurate. If we assume that grades indicate little about what a student can and cannot do then Tommy (and all students) should receive more accurate representations of their progress rather than grades. Standards based grading should be used. Jung & Guskey (2007) suggest that grades should be separated into 3 categories: Product Process Progress This is supported by the idea that: It provides a more detailed description of how students are doing. It does not require any more work for a teacher only to simply separate grades out. It provides a more standardized guide towards grades which are inherently subjective. “Daniel” is a 7th grade student with a learning disability. In accordance with his IEP, classroom instruction and assignments are modified in order to help Daniel experience success. However, because of his disability and past experiences of failure, Daniel often feels overwhelmed in the classroom and shuts down refusing to do his work. Because Daniel sometimes refuses to participate in portions of his class work, the issue arises: How do we grade Daniel in order to keep him accountable for the work, while not holding him to standards he cannot meet because of his disability? If Daniel’s IEP is being served and accommodations are being made, he should receive the grade that he has earned by completing his assignments, whether it is passing or failing, just like other students without IEP’s. “There should be no informal grade modifications outside of those established through the IEP team process…Students with disabilities should receive grades and credit in the same manner as other students when they complete the same courses as other students” (2001). “Federal law says special-education students should receive a “free appropriate public education, “ but it doesn’t prohibit failing them” when they do not complete the necessary and appropriately leveled work (2007). Instead of dwelling on what Daniel cannot do, grade him on what he can do. Build his academic self-efficacy by using Personalized Grading Plans (PGP), (2001). This can be accomplished by: Studying the progress a student makes in regard to their IEP goals. Comparing the improvement a student has made over past performance on similar tasks. Prioritizing specific assignments over others. Taking into account a student’s behavior/effort into their final grade. Modifying the weights or scales used for grading (2006). In regard to the issue of how to grade Daniel, it was decided that Daniel’s progress on his IEP goals would determine his grade instead of the mastery of each assignment given. This was deemed the appropriate action because: Daniel’s disability would hinder him from reaching the same mastery as his non-disabled peers. Despite not completing every assignment, Daniel would work hard on certain assignments and this work did show effort and growth. If Daniel received a failing grade while he was putting in effort, the resulting grade could lead him to a lower selfefficacy towards his own academic abilities. Caleb is a high school student with ADHD Caleb’s IEP provides modifications and accommodations to help him find success, including but not limited to: No group seating. Additional time to complete assignments. Creating an environment with as little distraction as possible. Caleb’s grade has suffered and the questions at hand are: What is the cause of Caleb’s lack of success? Are these problems in conflict with the IEP set up for Caleb to find success? How often is the classroom environment a problem for Caleb? Should Caleb receive his current grade if the classroom environment created difficulty in learning throughout the term? Due to the occasional inadequate learning environment, according to Caleb’s IEP, additional modifications/accommodations should be made. The actions of classmates or a teacher should not be the reason for lack of success in school. If the environment of the classroom is regularly a distraction, then Caleb’s IEP states that his grade should not suffer as a result. If distractions are not at an amount that conflict the guidelines of the IEP, and do not seem to be the cause of lack of success, the student should receive the grade he/she earned. Teachers should keep the student’s IEP in mind at all times Again, “Federal law says special-education students should receive a ‘free appropriate public education’, but it doesn’t prohibit failing them” (2007). “Research suggests that grading practices vary considerably among schools and among teachers in the same school, despite attempts in many schools to build in more consistency and predictability” (2008). An accommodation is a change in the course, standard, test preparation, location, timing, scheduling, expectation, student response, or other attributes that provides access for a student with a disability to participate in a course, standard or test, and it does not fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectation of the course, standard or test. A modification is a change in the course, standard, test preparation, location, timing, scheduling, expectation, student response, or other attribute that provides access for a student with a disability to participate in a course, standard or test, and it does fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectation of the course, standard or test. “An accommodation levels the “playing field” for those students, and that though they may feel that it is unfair to the other students it is truly their only way to have success in the classroom.” Jennifer Fleming, 2008. How can an orange be compared to an apple and graded fairly based on color and taste? When teachers use a “one-size-fits-all” grading system without accommodations, students with disabilities can be left feeling inadequate. Traditional competitive grading systems allow students a chance to show effort and completion of assignments, but often fail students when they take tests. Low grades negatively affect their self-esteem, cause frustration and a loss of motivation. Teachers should take into consideration what success looks like for a student with special needs. Grades should be based on that success and performance as defined by the student working to the best of his/her abilities. Effort and participation should also be evaluated. Accommodations and modifications are key to leveling the assessment playing field. A grading system should be fair to each student. A teacher can maintain fairness with grading by meeting individual needs through teaching and assessment. Grading modifications can be made by either changing the methods for assessment of redefining what the “grade” means. “Inflating grades is a bad idea...” Mandi, 2008. Every student should be held to the same standards regardless of disabilities. Grading systems are in place to measure all students’ knowledge and skills. A student’s grade should not reflect that accommodations have been made. Accommodations are to provide students with disabilities an equitable chance to learn and participate within general education. Grading students only on effort and participation along with failing grades may mislead both the student and parents. An unrealistic view of students’ skills and future goals becomes likely. It can also hide a student’s true ability level and their areas of improvement. If modifications have been made to the curriculum of any course, it is important that a student’s grade should reflect his/her achievement in the modified curriculum. This can only exist as long as modified grades are made available to all. Any modifications should be recorded in an IEP and be connected to the disability. Automatically giving modified grades to all special education students would be discriminatory and potentially violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Provides opportunities for high grades to be earned. Provides meaningful grades that reflect experiences in the classroom. Includes flexibility as needed to meet individual needs. An equitable grading system. Maintains high student accountability even when a grading system is individualized. Accurately matches grades to performance, even when accommodations are implemented. Provide accommodations for assessments routinely used for classroom instruction. Do not give an assessment accommodation for the first time on the day of a test. Prioritize content and related assignments for grading. Consider student effort when calculating a grade. Consider how well the student uses "processes" to complete his or her work. Base part of the grade on the student's progress on IEP objectives. Consider improvement over past performances. Change the weight of certain types of assignments or alter the grading scale. Collaborate with the special education teacher when assessing knowledge and skills. Develop a policy that allows for make-up work so that students credit for turning in missing work. Differentiated assessment is an opportunity for students with learning disabilities to demonstrate their learning in other ways than a traditional test. Provide multiple types of assignments that are designed to allow students to demonstrate learning in different ways. Blend extended assignments such as projects with in-class assessments (i.e. tests). Provide an ample number of assignments and assessments throughout the grading period. Modify the amount of reading that is needed to complete the assignment. Modify the way in which the student will complete the assignment or assessment (i.e. written, oral). Know and understand students’ goals and accommodations on IEP’s. Any discussion of a student with an IEP regarding his/her low or failing grades should identify specifically the skills for which the student receives the lowest grades. Accommodations aligned with the skill should be evaluated for appropriateness. Parents, teachers, and students with IEP’s should have an understanding of what the accommodations and modifications are in regards to grading. The use of different, individualized grading procedures, based on modified goals or standards, is legal only when such procedures are documented in the IEP. Special grading procedures cannot be made for individual students (without an IEP) unless the same procedures are made available to all students in the class, otherwise, it becomes illegal. California Department of Education. (2009). 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Slide 10. Building the legacy: IDEA 2004. Retrieved from http://idea.ed.gov/explore/home. Slide 15. D-. 123RF. Retrieved from www.123rf.com/photo_4420664.html. Slide 18: Smart Peas program at Main Street Middle School. Soledad, CA. Retrieved from www.smartpeasmsms.com:7.html. Slide 21. Frustrated student. The Goldberg center for educational planning. Retrieved from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.edconsult.org/Portals/41331/images Slide 29. Inflated A. Rattler. Retrieved from rattlernation.blogspot.com/2009/09/study-grad.... Slide 32. Grading. David’s English addendum. Retrieved from www.davisenglish.com/1301hsp/.