This year I’ve been trying to deepen my assessment. I teach intermediate. That means we are dealing in percents. I’ve been resisting the idea presents because to me, traditionally, an 8 out of 10 equals 80%. This would be a level four or an A. However, my experiences with percents have often been a misalignment to the matching level. What I mean to say is this: just because it student gets 8 out of 10 things right doesn’t necessarily mean they have demonstrated a level 4 mastery. Now of course this means I need to look more deeply at my assessments to ensure there are level 4 opportunities. And that my assessment accurately reflects what the student can demonstrate. I know this bias doesn’t always reflect percentages but it has been my past experience. Currently I’m looking to broaden that experience.
I’ve also long resisted the traditional rubric. I did enjoy it when I first started using it but over the last few years I’ve become disillusioned. It just seemed like a lot of work for me and it wasn’t giving me the pay off that I wanted. And then I moved to learning goals and success criteria. But I didn’t find a way to make my rubrics match that.
This year online I came across a single point rubric. Found this really exciting. No longer was I wasting my time with unnecessary leveled boxes. The reason I discarded rubrics is because I didn’t want to spend time on level one and level two. My focus was the target of level three.
Single point rubrics allowed me to focus on my success criteria. I was then able to focus on our goals and assign a level accordingly. I feel I’ve done away with meaningless qualifiers as they don’t mean much for students. Now I’m able to focus on the learning.
I’m still not sure it’s perfect but I am moving forward.
Now what I do feel constrained with is how to take this rubric and translate it into a percent.
Over the last few months I’ve been using my single point rubric and then collecting each number to then divide out of a total. This would give me a percent. There were a few problems with this. If students got all level fours they would end up with 100%. For some reason my mind resisted this as 100% always seem to be almost unattainable. If a student got all level threes they would then get 75%. This to me seemed OK. However the problem was if a student scored a level two or level one consistently for each point. If the students scored level two they would end up with 50%. The students scored level one they would score much below 50%. This didn’t match our traditional percentage and letter grade and level alignment.
Generally if a student was scoring level two they should get somewhere between 60 to 69%. If a student is scoring at a level one would be somewhere between 50 and 59%.
So then I needed to realign my values. I calculated that if the student scored at a level two I should score them as a 2.5. This generally gave me a 65%. If a student was scoring at a level one then they would be awarded two points each. This gave them about a 50%.
But I’m still wrestling with is that idea the level four equalling 100%. What I may end up doing is assigning a value of four for a 4+ and then a value of 3.5 for a traditional level four. This may help realign of the percentages to the letter grades that I have traditionally been used to.
And yesterday something really exciting happened. I was able to get a robot to do my calculations and deliver a percent.
Now I credit my wife for this revelation. I’m pretty familiar with most traditional software programs. However, for some reason, I’ve managed to avoid Excel. The Google equivalent to this would be Sheets. Don’t know why I never dug into that program but the longer I’ve avoided it the more my resistance grew. So then I was stuck manually calculating percentages and averages. And it seem to me that it was a lot of unnecessary work.
The last night I leaned in and opened up a sheet and transferred my single point rubric from a Google doc into a Google sheet. It took a bit of fiddling and a lot of Googling but I was able to create a single point rubric with check boxes and a space for a total and percent. This saves me lots of time.
Few months ago I was fortunate enough to attend a conference where I listened to Alice Keeler. There are many pieces of advice she gave gave, but one that I was determined to try was this: get robots to do the work. It’s a much more efficient use of my time. So if I could get sheets to calculate for me that would be a good thing. The robot does the work!
Today I had quite a few writing portfolios to mark. Using the sheets rubric I save myself some time. And this felt good.
So I’ll continue to work on my assessment practices. I know I have a ways to go to increase the rigor of my assessments and that my percentages need to better align with the level that I’m observing.
What are your thoughts and feelings on rubrics?