When is the best time to determine the level of student learning? At the beginning of a course? The middle of a course? Or the end of a course?
I hope you said, “The end.” Because that is when the determination really matters. Because up until the end, it’s just practice.
Except with the grade book; that isn’t the case. We forget all about practice in the grade bool. In the grade book, how you do early in the course is what matters most. Because if a student does really good at the beginning of the course (the time when the most advantaged students have the greatest advantage) they can coast on their early high grades and opt out of the class final at the end of the course, when performance should really matter.
Sounds kind of crazy when you say it out loud.
So, fix it. Implementing something I like to call the Davis Method (Dr. James Davis).
Dr. Davis is a master at reading data. And he is a stickler for creating valid data. The process to ensure that finals data is valid is three-fold.
- The final has to be cumulative and aligned to the pace and rigor of the scope and sequence.
- All students must take the final.
- Students must be motivated to give an honest effort when taking the final.
All three steps are easy and unpopular.
Step 1, building a common, cumulative, aligned and rigorous final is really easy to do (really). Just know that initially teachers, students and parents are going to hate this.
Step 2, having all students take the final is really easy to do (really). Just know that initially teachers, students and parents are going to hate this.
Step 3, getting students to give an honest effort when taking the final is a little harder (really). This requires changing the system. This is where Dr. Davis is a revolutionary. Dr. Davis figured out that if you want students to really try on the final, you have to change the rules. The Davis Method tells students that the Final can only help them, it can’t hurt them.
Here’s how it works. Students work all semester and have a semester grade. Then they take the final. If the final grade is higher than their semester grade, then the final grade counts as the overall course grade. If the final grade is lower than their semester grade, then the semester grade counts as the overall course grade.
Here’s what this looks like:
Kandace has a 93-semester average. She gets a 91 on the final. Her course grade is a 93.
Her semester grade served as insurance. Which rewarded her for her hard work and effort during the semester.
JW has an 83-semester average. He gets a 91 on the final. His course grade is a 91.
His final grade shows that at the end of the course he has mastered the material. He is rewarded for not giving up and grinding it out.
By the way… Students, parents and data geeks love this.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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