There is a grail which still needs to be found in standards-based grading. Mind you, O'Connor and others suggest that instead of searching for this grail that we should eliminate the need to look for it. While it is my hope that will one day happen, teachers need an alternative in the meantime. What the heck am I talking about? I'm talking about using standards-based grading practices within a traditional reporting system.
The problem is simply that teachers who use standards-based practices are organizing information by target---their gradebooks have no need to number crunch. Traditional report cards, however, do. I might talk with students about their progress toward the various learning goals, but I still have to put an A, B, C, D, or F on the report card. I would love to have a report card where I could share with parents how kids were progressing toward the individual goals (and thus eliminate the need to hunt for the grail). Right now, it isn't a possibility.
At the Sound Grading Practices conference, there was a session on converting rubric scores to grades. I had high hopes for this session---because I thought it might be the grail. Alas, it was a mirage. The idea was to use "logic" to just assign grades and/or percentages to the rubric scale. (E.g., let a 4 = A/95%, 3 = B/80%...) I didn't like this for two reasons. One, it isn't logical at all. There are no rules applied, but rather the teacher is somewhat arbitrarily assigning symbols. If that's the case, then why bother with the rubric scale at all? If you're going to say a 4 = A, then just put A, B, C, D on the rubric. (Ditto for percentages.) Secondly, I've done a lot of work getting kids to understand that a "3" means that they have met the standard and that is a "good" grade. My kids are excited by 3's. They know that a "3" is not a "B" (or any other letter equivalent). Why would I confuse them now?
One method, however, might have some promise. Here is one version of it:
In other words, as you look at the median scores for content and the most recent info for skills and are trying to report this out as a single letter grade (because you have to), then maybe a table like this would help. Is it possible to write an Excel algorithm for it, I wonder?
Any other ideas about how to engage in the Art of the Impossible and number crunch with standards-based grades?