Clymer, J. B., & Wiliam, D. (2007). Improving the way we grade science. Educational Leadership, 64, 36-42.
Clymer and Wiliam argue that a standards-based grading system provides a better picture of student achievement and helps convey learning goals to students. After reviewing the research on assessment practices and the meaning of feedback, the authors discuss assessment that supports learning, explaining that assessment information must be instructionally meaningful and dynamic. Clymer and Wiliam describe results from a pilot study on grading in an 8th grade science class in which the authors implemented a grading system based on mastery of 10 content standards, rating students as mastery, developing, or beginning, with the final grade reflecting the aggregate level of proficiency in these 10 standards. Students were given multiple chances to show their knowledge or learning and no grade was final until the end of the grading period. Teachers provided students with regular feedback on class work and weekly progress reports. The authors found that after implementing this new grading system, many students changed from a performance oriented approach to a mastery oriented approach to learning. Students also reported a better understanding of the material, were able to focus more on key concepts, and used peer- and teacher- feedback to monitor their own learning. Additionally, this new grading system was associated with improvements in student achievement, particularly for the highest- and lowest- achieving students. The authors conclude that standards-based assessment is an improvement on more traditional assessment methods frequently used in the U.S. and will help teachers use assessment to better support student learning.
Multiple Measures, Reciprocal Feedback