Stephanie, Principal ~~ Andrew, Assistant Principal
After spending a bit of time looking through the teacher grade pages in MiStar I am reflecting on the various stories that might be told based on those spreadsheets. They are interesting, as a grade book pages go, mostly because they are so very different. I candidly admit that I am surprised at how varied they are from point total to number of assignments to the types of assignments that are included. It sets my mind to wondering how or what might be the best approach to grades and the documentation of performance.
If I am a student, what I am thinking about is the total of those numbers. "What is my grade!" is what I expect MiStar to tell me and as accurately and up-to-date as possible please. Please grade my work quickly and enter it as soon as possible so I can keep up on my grade. Please consider that this worksheet took me 10 minutes to complete and that paper took me 3 days to write so it is hard to understand if both assignments are worth 100 points (because you know that they are weighted). I really appreciate when my unit outline lists my assignments with the same titles as MiStar and the points are given and explained!
If I am a parent, what I am thinking about is the progress of my child. I love when I see a steady stream of measured work that demonstrates my child's effort in class as well as his understanding. It is so much easier when the names of the homework are identifiable (and understandable) to me so that I can fish out a missing worksheet from the bottom of his backpack. And I LOVE when the assignments for tomorrow or the next day are listed so that I can make homework a priority tonight! It causes me some worry when I see a class with one or two grades in after almost six weeks of coursework; it seems like a dramatic understatement of the importance of school.
As a teacher, I saw the marks in my grade book as dutiful little soldiers, marching toward the end of the marking period to show me how to mark progress report and report card. My grade book was for me and me only and I understood how all the pieces fit together. But no one saw my grade book. Public view of these grades has made a big difference in the lives of our parents and our students. The time we take in A20 to help students navigate MiStar is invaluable to them!
The setup of your grade book is personal and the mathematical calculations that get students to a final grade need to be accurate and equitable. Please take notice of how up-to-date and complete your grade book is at this point in the year. Do you feel that what is included is accurately reflecting student performance? Does it show parents and students the work that you are doing? Contact a support person (me, Andy, Jane, your mentor, a colleague) if you have questions or thoughts about this as we are happy to talk and help.
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