NCES Brings Us #Wormeli2014

Yesterday I spent about five hours listening to Rick Wormeli talk about differentiating assessment and grading in Berlin, NH.

He’s an excellent speaker, but yesterday was not really professional development that I needed. I already understand the problems with grades. I’ve written about them for teachers at my school myself. I’ve read the same literature Rick’s read.

Did I take a few things away from his presentation? Of course. I learned that I was right to doubt myself for averaging students’ grades. I picked up on how to deal with assignments that address multiple standards. He also had a great response for educators worried about how much work good pedagogy is;

Can you do it all of the time? No. Can you do it 51% of the time? Yes.

Rick shared a great TED talk by Dr. Tae – “Can Skateboarding Save Our Schools?”

And one other great quote:

We’re in the world to help each other out

Assessment and grading aren’t a “gotcha” enterprise. They’re meant to provide information about learning.

Oh he also briefly mentioned students with disabilities. He emphasized that evidence of mastery of standards can be collected in many different ways. He also acknowledged that grade-level standards aren’t appropriate for some students, but they can work on similar standards at their own level, and that they should not be stigmatized by having their grades reported in some alternative fashion (ie. putting an M next to their grade to indicated their curriculum was Modified).

On second thought maybe I did need yesterday’s professional development. It really allowed me to flesh out some of my ideas about the principles of assessment and grading. And I really hope that having all the faculty in our school attend pushes the conversation about grades and assessment forward.