## Algebra 3 Standards

July 14, 2014

StephReilly (@reilly1041) asked if I could post some of my material from Algebra 3, which gives me something to write about–yay!

Background: When Texas went to requiring four years of math, my district decided to add an “Algebra 3” course. My instructions were to create a class that was beyond Algebra 2 and that could prepare students for college algebra. We picked a great textbook, which I generally followed.

I also wanted to have my students practice problem solving, so about twice per six weeks, they had a problem set assigned. These were problems I (mostly) found from Problem Solving Strategies, which is a really great book. I liked these problems, because the math is fairly simple, but the thinking is not. I would give them one class day to work on the problems, and one week to get them finished and turned in.

Here’s what I ended up with for my standards (objectives):
Read the rest of this entry ?

## SBG Year One

June 8, 2011

After thinking about my first year of my interpretation of Standards-Based Assessment, I am on the whole very happy with how it worked out, although I have some definite changes I want to make for next year.

In no particular order, here are my reflections on SBG:

• Since I have so many SPED kids, SBG made doing strengths and weaknesses a breeze.
• Breaking down the chapters by topic almost correlated exactly to by section. My biggest quibble is that if a student came in wanting to reassess objective 18, I couldn’t remember what that objective was (as compared to section 6-5). I’m not sure which way I’ll go next year.
• The most persistent problem with SBG was in requiring students to come in outside of class to reassess. Not only did this tie up S’s and my time, but not enough students came by. For next year, I think I will have each objective on the quiz three times–the first for the grade, and the second and third as optional retakes. After that, I’m debating putting students on the board who need to come in and retake. The biggest drawback of this scenario is that it will make the quizzes longer to take and to grade. On the plus side, this would definitely take care of make-up quizzes.
• Using the six-weeks tests as retakes worked really well.
• Do I want to do more correlation between the notebook/notes and the objectives? I feel like there’s something of a disconnect–that is, that the objectives only apply to the quizzes. Something to ponder.
• It still seems pretty incredible to me, but SBG (and thus eliminating chapter tests) gave me over 12 additional days of instruction this year!
• It was very frustrating when a student would come in and say “I want to retake objective xx,” and I would ask if he knew what he did wrong, he would say, “No.” It never seemed to enter his (or her) mind that if he didn’t learn why he didn’t pass it the first time, he’s not likely to pass it now.
• It was very hard to not give in to the “regurgitation” model of tutor then test. And, for the most part with our SPED kids, we gave in.
• For the most part, nobody used the existence of the retake to blow off the first take of the quiz. A few students abused this occasionally, but since it required them to have the discipline to show up after school to retake the quiz, the problem usually sorted itself out.

## Random Notes

January 17, 2011

The word I couldn’t think of for the triangle segments that intersect is concurrencies.

I ❤ SBG. One change I'm going to make (pace Cornally) is to make the first quiz feedback only. The second quiz is the grade. This will make it much easier to explain and track.

## Thinking a Thought

September 6, 2010

After reading Surani’s review of her first year trying SBG, I had a thought. I agree with her (and S and I had discussed it) that quizzes should be returned as quickly as possible. I felt pretty good that I returned the Algebra 3 quizzes the next class period and fairly guilty that I didn’t return Geometry’s. I’m wondering, though, if it might be possible to return them even quicker. Since there are no names on the quizzes, I actually wouldn’t mind having students mark them; then, while they are doing something else, I could quickly look through and assign grades and enter them.

I think it could work in Algebra 3, because I usually have them working on a group assignment after the quiz. In Geometry and Algebra I, I’m wondering if S and I switched places for that lesson, if that would work (I would grade while she did the Geometry lesson, and she would grade while I did the Algebra I).

August 14, 2010

## My SBG Pitch

August 5, 2010

S and I will be meeting with B, the assistant principal regarding our proposed SBG schemes for Algebra I and Geometry. We had talked about just going ahead and doing it (better to ask forgiveness than beg permission), but since we don’t operate in a vacuum, I didn’t want to take the risk of having B find out after the fact and being blindsided. In addition, we have a good rep with the special ed. department because all of our scores went up last year. So …

I. What is wrong with the current system?

• In the regular curriculum, there are homework, quizzes, and tests, which all count towards the student’s grade. There are several problems with this scenario:
• Even when we only give completion grades for homework, we are still grading practice. It’s as if my old band director had graded me on whether I practiced my flute last night. Practice shouldn’t be graded.
• Sometimes a student doesn’t understand something on the homework, and so he fails the quiz. Our current “solution” has been to replace quiz grades with test grades, but that practice doesn’t tell us whether the student ever mastered that particular concept. Nor does that give the student much of an incentive to learn the material.
• Suppose we have two students who both made a 100 on the chapter test. Student 1 got all of the homework and aced all of the quizzes. Student 2 didn’t do most of the homework and bombed a couple of the quizzes. Because he came by for help, he caught on by the time the test was given. Why should Student 2 have a lower grade than Student 1?
• Because math is always building on earlier concepts, a concept that a student may have bombed earlier is now easier for him. Too bad — the test has been given.
• When a student makes a 75 on a test, what does that mean? Does it mean:
• He missed 1/4 of the problems.
• He got all of the problems right except for this one concept in which he missed all of the problems.
• He understood all of the concepts, but he made some careless mistakes.
• He really failed the test, but because he got the bonus problems correct, he made a passing grade.
• The whole class bombed the test, so the teacher square-root curved the grades. He really made a 56.

II. What is different about SBG?

• SBG stands for “Standards-Based Grading”, and while there are several different definitions for it, at its core it represents a change in the way students are assessed. In SBG, the important goal is how well the student masters a concept or skill, not when (or if) the skill is mastered.
• The curriculum is broken down into a group of standards (or concepts, or objectives, etc.). These concepts are then taught and assessed. It is a much more itemized list than just “Chapter 3 – Parallel Lines”.
• One of the key tenets of SBG is a more focused assessment policy. Instead of a “Chapter 3 Test”, there are assessments for each of the standards in chapter 3. Thus, we (and the student) can see that he really understands Angles Formed by Transversals, but he is weak on Parallel and Perpendicular Slopes.
• Because SBG is more about mastering the concept than when it is mastered, students are allowed to reassess any concept they haven’t mastered. There are some practical limitations on this idea (end of the grading period, etc.), but it’s certainly more than they can do now.
• As educators, we like to talk about teaching kids to be “life-long learners”. SBG actually provides a framework to help this goal. Because the concepts are so delineated, students can see where their weaknesses are. And because SBG allows for multiple assessments, students are encouraged to continue trying to build mastery.

III. What will our implementation of SBG look like?

• We will generally be following the same sequence as everyone else (the same schedule we followed last year). Also, our focus on hands-on notetaking (foldables) won’t change.
• The big change will be in the assessments. About every three objectives, we will give an quiz over those objectives and the three previous ones (every objective is quizzed twice, once at a basic level, once at a more advanced level). The sequence would be teach 1,2,3, quiz 1,2,3, teach 4,5,6, quiz 1,2,3,4,5,6, teach 7,8,9, quiz 4,5,6,7,8,9, etc.
• Students will receive a grade for each objective on the quiz (six objectives -> six grades). Grades will be on a 0-4 scale.
•  4 Demonstrates thorough understanding 3.5 High level of understanding, but with small errors (computation, etc.) 3 Demonstrates understanding, but with significant gaps 2 Shows some understanding, but insufficient for a passing grade 1 Attempts the problem 0 No attempt
• If a student makes the same or higher on the second assessment, that becomes their grade; otherwise, their grade is the average of the two assessments. Any student who has not made a 4 on the second assessment can re-take a quiz for that objective until he makes a 4.
• Re-takes must be done either before or after school or during lunch.
• Students may not re-take more than one quiz per day.
• Students can either come by for tutoring or re-takes, not both on the same day.
• If a student has a 1 or lower, he may not re-take the quiz without coming in first for tutoring.
• The deadline for re-takes is the last Thursday of the six-weeks.
• Our grading scheme is thus going to be:
• Algebra 1 Geometry
Quizzes 50% 60%
Tests (6Wks and CA) 30% 30%
Notebook Check 10% 10%
Class Participation 10%
• We don’t want to take a grade on the homework, but we want to give them some sort of incentive to do it. Therefore, we’ll give them a tenth of the percentage of the homework that they do as a bonus grade (if they do all the homework on time, that would add 10 points to their grade).
• Because we’re eliminating the chapter tests, that gives us at least 12 additional instructional days for the year (the test review days are eliminated as well).

## Cheating

July 20, 2010

As David asks here, how does cheating fit into the standards-based framework? I’ve always tried to discourage cheating by planning for it–multiple versions, etc., but I know some kids still cheat. S and I have already discussed more active monitoring during quizzes and tests, so I’m hoping we can nip any potential cheating in the bud.

From a philosophical standpoint, I can see the virtue of allowing the student to reassess the cheated-upon quiz; in general, content grades should be about assessing skills, not behavior. It’s hard not to think there shouldn’t be consequences, however. Lowering the student’s conduct grade and/or calling his parents don’t seem to be severe enough for most, if not all, of my students, so I think in this instance philosophy must bow to circumstances.

So what to do? From a logistical standpoint, how do I differentiate the grades so that I remember that so-and-so cheated on his quiz three weeks ago?

For any quiz that I plan to give, half of it will be the first time an objective has been assessed. I think it’s fair to give a 0 on these objectives, as they will be reassessed in the normal course of things, and I don’t think cheating should affect that. The other half of the objectives are the second (and more difficult) assessment, and those are the ones I do not want the student to be able to reassess. In order to let me know what’s going on, I think I will give the student a 0.5–it’s close to being a 0 for the assessment, but if I only use that number for cheaters, then I know not to allow the student to reassess.