Grading....the more I read the more confused I get....
I agree with many of the "fixes" that this book discusses are important in our classrooms. I have already made some changes in my classroom such as not giving a zero for any assignment or test. Now I expect the student to re-do the assignment if necessary, and they do not have the option of taking the lower grade or simply not doing the work. One of the biggest questions I have is how to apply this to band lessons. Presently my 7th-12th band students need to take three private lessons a quarter to receive an A in that category of their overall grade. If they don't take any of the lessons they receive a low D for that category but not an F even though they didn't do any of the work. If I gave them an F they would flunk for the quarter since the category is weighted as 80% of their grade.
I've been thinking about how I'm going to grade next year and how I should go about changing my system. Do I make the three lessons mandatory? If they don't get them done can I give the student an incomplete on their report card until they do? If I'm going to do assess my students fairly and be able to make several formative assessment comparisons throughout the school year, I would need to see all of my students the same amount of time. I can't fairly track their progress if I see some of my students for three lessons in a quarter and some of them not at all. These lessons are only 15 minutes a piece so they are not a lot of time. However, the students would have to make sure that they organized their time accordingly so they would finish them in the allotted time. I would say presently 85% of my students get all three of their lessons done each quarter but 15% either don't finish all three of their lessons or don't take any lessons at all.
I was reading another book on grading at the same time I was reading this one. The other book I read was written specifically for music teachers and is called "Grading For Musical Excellence" by Paul Kimpton and Ann Kimpton. I was hoping by the time I finished that book I would have all of the answers on how I would grade next year, but I'm still uncertain. One statement that I strongly agree with from that book is the following:
"Few directors (if any) can hear every single mistake and evaluate individuals fairly solely from the podium."
I simply can not fairly assess them without hearing them individually. Furthermore, if I see all of them for an equal amount of time, the students and I could set individual goals for the year and discuss their progress from lesson to lesson. .......But.......if these lessons are mandatory will I have students drop out of band? Will their parents not understand why they the lessons are mandatory and be upset if their child receives an incomplete grade in band?
The second biggest question I have with changing my grading system is if it is fair to use differentiated grading with my students. All of them will be playing the same songs in band but of course not all of their parts are at the same difficulty level. Also, I would not use the same etudes or solos with every student in private lessons. I would want to start at the level that they are presently at and challenge them to the next level. However, my students are not going to be reaching the same level of proficiency at the same time. Does that mean that a student who sits fourth chair in my trumpet section should still receive a "developing" score at the end of the year if they can not play the same etude as my principal trumpet player?........even if they have progressed greatly throughout the year? Or......could I give my fourth chair trumpet player a "proficient" grade because he reached his individual goals that we had set out for him at the beginning of the school year?
I would love to hear comments/opinions on these issues that I'm battling with......mandatory lessons?.....differentiated grading?