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Assessment and Grading in Competency-Based Classrooms

Assessment and Grading in Competency-Based Classrooms

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will learn how competency-based grading differs from traditional grading. You will also investigate specific assessment and grading practices that are common in competency-based classrooms.

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In this tutorial, we'll explore assessment and grading in competency-based classrooms. We'll begin by comparing competency-based grading with more traditional grading techniques. And then we'll share some best practices in competency-based grading. Let's get started.

First, how does competency-based grading compare to more traditional grading techniques? In competency-based grading, grades are assigned for completion of individual competencies, whereas in a traditional grading scheme, grades are assigned for individual assignments. Grading in a competency-based environment is criterion based, and expectations are clearly communicated to students. In traditional grading, grades are almost always based on a simple percentage system.

In competency-based environments, grades are only assigned for mastery of competencies, whereas in a traditional classroom environment, grades are assigned for all sorts of things, including assessment, homework, effort, and even behavior. In competency-based grading, students advance upon demonstrated mastery of the current competency. In traditional grading, the gradebook is divided into specific grading periods that are somewhat arbitrary. So that means that all of the formative and summative assessments that happen to occur within a grading period are combined together to make up the final grade. This doesn't allow for any variety in students' progression along their learning paths.

Shifting to competency-based grading definitely requires a lot of changes, so here are some best practices. First, summative assessments should be used to make up the majority of the grade. The idea is that formative assessments should be used for learning.

The point of a formative assessment is to inform both the student and the teacher about where the student currently is in terms of making progress towards the mastery of that competency. A summative assessment, on the other hand, is an assessment of their learning. That should be heavily weighted in the gradebook.

In competency-based grading, there should not be multiple grading periods created within a semester or the school year. There's no need to create these arbitrary grading periods that are then added up or somehow combined to make a final semester or end-of-the-year grade. The student's semester or end-of-the-year grade is simply calculated based on the level of mastery that they've demonstrated for the competencies that are on their learning path.

Also remember, in competency-based education, students need to receive multiple tries on an assessment if they don't demonstrate mastery on the first try. It's important to remember that students learn in different ways and at different rates. And so we need to provide them with those multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning to us. Some teachers do require their students to develop what's called a reassessment plan. That is a plan that outlines how students are going to revisit the competency that they're working on and maybe include some formative assessments that students will take along the way before those students are allowed to retake the summative assessment.

Also in a competency-based gradebook, you should not enter zeroes in the gradebook. The idea here is that a zero doesn't truly represent non-completion of work. All it does is skew the student's grade and creates a picture that's not accurately representing the student's knowledge and skill levels. Instead, the common practice in competency-based grading is to assign an incomplete when a student has not completed a particular task.

And then part of the procedure is also creating a specific plan to help make sure that the student does finish that required work. Elements of that plan might include just simply outlining the specific steps that the student will take or perhaps scheduling a conference or contacting the student's parents. If you're considering implementing a competency-based gradebook, hopefully these best practices will help you along your way.

In this tutorial, we compared competency-based grading with more traditional grading techniques. And you learned some best practices that may help you in implementing competency-based grading.

Here's a chance for you to stop and reflect. Can you see a competency-based gradebook working in your classroom environment. As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Assessment and Grading in Competency-Based Classrooms"

(00:00 - 00:17) Introduction

(00:18 - 01:27) Competency-Based Grading vs Traditional Grading

(01:28 - 03:55) Best Practices

(03:56 - 04:06) Review

(04:07 - 04:33) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

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