Foundations: Standards-Based Grading, Reassessments!

Now that you have a better sense (I hope!) of what standards-based grading (SBG) is from my intro post, I am going to get into the whole reassessment aspect a bit more.  I mentioned that many SBG practices include reassessments, which is true (based on my own reading).  However, reassessments are NOT a required part of SBG.  You can still use this student-centered, make-grades-into-a-tool-for-better-learning system without reassessments.  In this post, I am going to focus on what reassessment means and how I use it in my physics and AP® Physics courses.

What is a reassessment?

A reassessment is an extra quiz that a student requests outside of our regularly scheduled in-class quizzes.  To clarify my vocabulary, I call all of our assessments quizzes as using a skills-based system negates the need for distinguishing between quizzes and tests.  This is not a duplication or re-making of a specific past quiz.  It is a freshly made quiz targeting the specific skills the student feels they would like to demonstrate again with the hopes of moving toward or achieving mastery.  This means the quiz may be composed of skills from completely different units of study.  This also means that I make each reassessment individually, tailor-made for each student.  Yes, this sounds like a lot, but it is way more manageable than it sounds.  Please read on!

What is my reassessment policy?

I allow students to reassess up to two times per semester.  Some SBG-ers allow for infinite reassessments and some allow for none, as the students have sufficient opportunities on in-class assessments to revisit the course skills.  I haven't gone the infinite route as I do want my policy to encourage students to strive to master our skills while we are practicing them.  However, I do want to give credit to those students that make connections after a unit has passed.  And so, here I am at a middle ground of two reassessments per semester.  I pasted the remaining details of my policy below.  Please note: this was taken from the course info I give the kids at the start of the year so it is written to the student.
details of standards-based grading reassessment policy
I am liking this policy (I have had a version of this for two years) as it requires the students to really look at their overall performance and see what skills need more attention.  Further, the students have to invest time and attention into pursuing the reassessment.  I want them to own the process as much as I do.  They bring thoughtful analysis of their understanding and I make the reassessment.

Note: In my policy, I mention the student must have an up-to-date tracker sheet.  This is a google sheet I make and share with each student to help them track their skill proficiencies.  It also links to my grade book so they can compare their average to mine to make sure we match!  More on this in a later post!

How is the reassessment included in the course grade?

My intro SBG post included this as well, but I will highlight the details here for completeness.  Let's say Norbert has been assessed on three accelerated motion skills.
Constant acceleration model standards-based grading skills
Each time he is assessed, he earns a score for each skill based on the following scale.  Remember, as I mentioned before, this is the scale I use.  There are MANY other options.
Standards-based grading skill scale for physics class
Norbert has been assessed twice in class.  His grade looks like this:Standards-based grading sample grade calculation for physics class
His overall score for each skill is the average of his performances in that skill.  Norbert submits for a reassessment.  His grade now looks like this:
Standards-based grading sample grade calculation including reassessment
Notice, the reassessment does not replace any previous scores.  It simply acts as another assessment.  I like that it doesn't erase the past as I love to see the students' scores evolve over time like the story of their learning.  Further, I can give more substantive feedback looking at the history of each skill and the performance difference between skills.

Did I struggle to incorporate reassessments into my courses?

Yes and no.  The policy itself was easy.  I was already using SBG without reassessments so adding the feature in was a breeze.  The hard part was getting a solid library of problems to pull from for reassessments for both physics and AP® Physics.  But now, two years in, not only do I feel solidly stocked in the problems department, but I also have more confidence in my ability to create meaningful, multi-skill scenarios.  This was an unexpected, but pretty cool, side benefit!

Do the students take advantage of reassessments?

Again, yes and no.  Many students don't but have shared that they like that the option is there.  A handful of the students do and really show growth in the skills they target.  I also teach predominantly seniors and the pressure of grades for college is at the forefront of their mind.  The reassessment policy reinforces the notion that their grade is theirs.  They have all the power to change it (a hopefully empowering and comforting thought).

While the details of my policy may shift, for the foreseeable future, reassessments are here to stay in my classrooms!  Look for more posts about SBG in the future!


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