90% Test Mark. Yay! Right? Not always.

This is the example I give to explain why an overall percent doesn't tell the whole story, and can sometimes slow progress.

Three students take a math test of 100 questions: ten questions each for ten different units. Here are the results:

Each of the students achieves an average of 90% on the test. They all got the same grade, but it means very different things for each one. Avery demonstrated significant understanding of all the concepts. Blake struggled in two areas, and Casey was unable to demonstrate any understanding whatsoever. So, for one there are no concerns. For another, there are a couple of areas to improve. For the third, there is a serious gap that needs remediation.

A child, or parent for that matter, seeing the 90% may think, "super, that's an excellent mark, nothing to do here!" Yet in two instances there is work to do and in one a serious concern that may point to a sudden disengagement, or a learning gap preventing progress.

Focused feedback is much more informative than a percent grade. Identifying specific issues, or next steps facilitates infinite opportunities for growth. A percent grade suggests a finite degree of completion. The last thing we want to do is suggest to a student that she knows everything already and close off incentive for further or deeper exploration. If a student's goal is the achievement of marks, then where do you go from 100%? If you want more, check out How Grades Change Conversations About Assessment & Achievement.

Would love to hear your opinions, thoughts, experiences with assessment.




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