Grading in the art classroom. Touchy subject for some, for others it’s a place where they as well as their students might protest too much, and for others they have it down --- but I wonder if they are sharing how they do this grading thing. Grading. We, in my school district are standards based in our application of content. We as teachers are given the professional judgment to develop rubrics, which assess these content standards with in a criteria structure. Currently I am sitting on a task force, which has the job of creating school wide assessment guidelines. One of our first tasks in our discussion was to submit a draft of what might become our school’s Philosophy of Assessment. Here’s what I came up with – and really if you read my teaching philosophy they are pretty much the same --- maybe with a few words changed around.
Our Philosophy of Assessment is centered on communication of skills, works habits and knowledge, which engender a depth of understanding in content standard area for the student. This assessment practice is anchored to the beliefs that the classroom operations are: To give the student a variety of situations, structures and skills sets within which to demonstrate their knowledge of the content standard; to develop an environment of problem finding as well as problem solving through the learned skill of critical thinking. The practice of transferring as well as applying understanding of the content standard through a clear grasp of the content standard knowledge is the taproot for all other activities in the classroom.
The students are given assignments, exercises, and skill sets to facilitate the development of their content standard vocabulary to the extent, which it is fluidly and confidently articulated through a given format as well as across disciplines. Assessments are created to further the students’ content standard knowledge, application and critical thinking depth to the place of mastery within the content standard.
The idea of standards based learning is that all children will reach proficient and then move on to mastery. Good. This is what we want right? And standards based grading is not a list of behavior descriptors that are in place to manage and control the art classroom but there are work habits that are criteria for application and process. I am all for standards based grading. It is a scary for some because it is no longer about the teacher creating the project descriptors which are heavy on the behavior of the student and light on the skill development and application of the content. Rubrics become too elaborate in how meaning is to span so many areas. I processing this shift in grading practice--- with knowledge that I do grade on standards criteria based checklist however how does standards based grading fit within the current structure of the school year? ---three trimesters--- 6 grades each trimester. Interesting.