As I approach mid year and the third quarter, which means all new students for me, I am taking the opportunity to work on transitioning my grading policies. At the beginning of the year we as a staff agreed to reflect on our current grading policies and improve how they measure student learning.
On a personal note, I have been opposed to letter grades for a long time, probably since I was in high school myself. I understood even then that grades didn't really reflect how much I learned - or didn't learn! Think back to elementary reports, there weren't grades, but letters. An "O" might be outstanding and an "E" excellent. Even to our standardized testing, we don't have letter grades but words like Basic and Advanced. These practices better reflect the level of student understanding of a subject.
My grading practices have changed over the past few years. I realized that if a student follows the basic instructions to complete a project, such as a Power Point presentation, when newly introduced to the program, I gave them all the points possible. I didn't grade the creativity or choice of fonts, but the fact that they could complete the project. I called them "all or nothing" assignments.
This year I have taken it a step further by using a 4 point rubric to "grade" each requirement. I then weight the grades using the point system in School Loop. For example, if a project has 7 components and each can be worth up to 4 points, that's 28 total. If it is an involved project, I might make it worth 100 points. So School Loop does the math for me.
So the final step is using a mastery based grading scale in School Loop. Instead of an overall grade, you will see Advanced down to Far Below Basic. At grade report time, I still have to report a letter grade, this is something School Loop is working on addressing.
I hope this helps clarify the thinking behind the grades I give your students. Post a comment or question!