A friend and I were comparing experiences in our journey through Standards-Based Gradingland. We're swimming in the deep end of the pool this year, and instead of feeling like we're drowning, we're finding the waters surprisingly inviting. This includes marking tests kids have taken.
Certainly the test items are designed with a particular right answer in mind; but, with this sort of grading there's a rubric. As a teacher, I'm looking for the gestalt in terms of the standard(s). Does the kid get it or not? I'm not totaling points and calculating percentages. I'm not fussing over weighting of items. This is not only an enormous time-saver for me, but a good support for kids. It's more about credit than penalties.
I will say that the rubric development is where most of my think-time has to go. And yes, there is some fussing with the idea of "How many (and what kind of) items can a kid miss and still be at standard?" I'm not assigning this a particular point value---I plan to mark all of the tests first and then quick sort them into two groups (at standard, not at standard) based on what I've seen. If there are scores of 1's and 4's to assign from there, I'll work it out in a similar fashion. The forest first...trees later. :)
What will happen to my kids with 1's and 2's? A few options. Kids can reattempt the test provided they engage in some additional learning. For others who don't choose that pathway, I'm looking at two things. One is to sit down with them for individual conferences and help them come up with a course of action. The other is to pair off with another teacher who has biology the same period(s) that I do. We can split our classes into two groups---those who are at standard can have an enrichment lesson with one teacher while the other works on remediation with the other group. Should be quite the adventure for all of us.