Foundations: Midterms + SBG
It can be difficult to make cumulative, summative assessments like midterms and finals feel like they fit in with the standards-based grading (SBG) philosophy. These assessments run a bit counter to the core message of honoring growth and approaching learning as a continuous process. When I first began using SBG, I still gave a traditional midterm. Fitting into the system of my school was a significant factor in that decision. Most of the time, these larger assessments are determined to be worth a certain percentage of the semester grade. As a result, I used SBG for 80% - 85% of my semester grades and the remaining 20% - 15% was composed of the larger cumulative assessment. However, this always felt wrong. While the problems on the assessment (their wording and punny nature) matched what the students saw during the rest of our time together, I didn't like that I was treating their performance on this particular assessment differently. Finally, with some encouragement from my fellow SBG-ers, I changed my midterm to look like a larger SBG assessment. Here is what the cover page looks like for my AP® Physics C midterm:in-class assessment. To make the students' lives easier and list less overwhelming, I highlighted the core skills (those in bold in the image above) to be assessed. This focused their study time by allowing prioritization. The secondary skills are present and still assessed, but mainly serve as a means of supporting the core skills. Further, I gave them a basic overview of the problems and their focus as shown below.