Last week, I blogged about Advancing the Gradebook. Maybe gradebooks should be treated like the six million dollar man: The electronic gradebook. A tool barely useful. Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first meaningful gradebook. X will be that tool. Better than it was before. Better, stronger, faster. You get the idea.
Since my original post, a couple of things have happened. First of all, Paul over at Markscan sent me a link for the software he masterminded and had developed. His goal was to have something which would allow Ontario teachers to comply with the requirement that they use the most recent/most consistent level of achievement in determining grades. The image below is from the website for his software.
The idea here is that formative and summative assessments are different shades (and you can display one or another or both), with the width of the bars communicating the weight of the assessment. There are some good features here. I like the graphical display and the ability to distinguish between types of assessments.
Another thing that has happened in the last week is that I've been in contact with the Microcharts people. They do offer a 15% discount for educators, which is a start. This is a company based in Germany and therefore immune to the NCLB hoopla. I think they're missing a huge market here; however, I do want to give things a try.
Finally, I mocked up something in Excel:
It's not perfect. I did not use conditional formatting or formulas for this---I was more interested in seeing what something could look like at this point. However, I do want to go back and see if I can get the program to reproduce the results.
I have the bullet graph broken down into three colours representing the Response to Intervention levels of intensive (red), strategic (yellow), and benchmark (green). This would allow a teacher to easily see who needs reteaching/interventions and group accordingly. Secondly, I wanted something that shows progress (or at least a range). This is what the horizontal lines on the bullet graph are for. The vertical hash marks on the graph indicate the median scores. In two cases (Linus and Pigpen), we have students who are performing consistently, albeit at different levels. One might not worry so much about Linus (other than wondering if we're challenging him enough), but Pigpen is troubling. An alternative to the graph would be to just use conditional formatting in Excel that would change the colour of a cell automatically depending upon the score entered. You wouldn't need this for every cell. Instead, you could just choose a column to represent the median score of a range of other cells, then have it ready to turn red, yellow, or green depending upon that information. Personally, I would prefer a graph that can also display range. A sense of progress is important to me. Maybe a kid hasn't reached benchmark yet, but if they're growing, that's still good information to have.
I showed this at my presentation this week and one of the participants had a very good question about the time that this would take to set up and use. She was concerned about the "old dog new tricks" impact on more experienced staff members. First of all, I don't think that everyone should have to use the same tool for tracking grades. Reporting is different, since the information has to be integrated and accessible to others, but for day-to-day classroom a teacher needs to find what best suits the way they work. Secondly, I'm thinking that setup in Excel would only need to happen a couple of times a year. Once you know the formulas you want to use, you're good to go.
I'm still pondering the "dashboard" idea for integrating either all of a student's information or all of a classes information into one display. It's still summer for a few more weeks, so I still have some time to play with that.
Any other gradebook ideas to share?