Standards based rubric frustration

Last week, for the first time, I applied my standards based system for assessment. I really love being able to see the amount of learning each student achieved in each of the standards. For the most part, the students appreciated what we were doing. They were fairly eager to participate in assessing their own learning, and we have some real data that they created. I believe that for most students the mystery is removed from assessment in the art room.

For all the success that my students experienced, I have encountered a couple of real problems. The first is the problem of every rubric I have ever used. Each area has been assessed, and I am comfortable with this data. However, when I try to combine the data into a summary number or “grade” it all falls apart. I had hoped to use this summary number for our school’s eligibility, but I don’t think it is accurate.

Right now, none of my students have mastered any of the standards. This is expected at the beginning of the course. As a result, their summary “grade” is between an F and  C. Most students have an F. These students aren’t failing my class, they are beginners.  To solve this problem, I just had students assign a percentage that they wanted in the grade book. Again, because it is student generated, it is not mysterious. It is still meaningless, just not mysterious.

Our second problem is one that I should have seen coming, but didn’t. In the past when I set up a rubric, the top box was for mastery at the level appropriate for the assignment. If a student met or exceeded the project goals, they received the highest mark in that category. This will not work on year long standards based assessment.

The class project introduced Value as an Element of Design, and a tool in creating the Illusion of Space. Many students excelled at this introduction project, and I told them to mark the highest learning level, giving them a 4 in that standard. A 4 indicates full mastery of the standard, and this project did not assess full mastery, only basic mastery.

For now, I have removed the possibility of mastery from my introductory rubrics, and have instructed my students about how meaningless their summary “grade” is. I am not pleased with how this new system is working, but I still believe that it is the right thing to do in my classroom. I’m just not certain of how it will work.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

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About Mr. Miller

I teach Visual Arts in La Junta, Colorado. I am also an artist and printmaker. But more importantly, I am a husband and father to a beautiful and inspiring family.
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One Response to Standards based rubric frustration

  1. Michelle says:

    I hear you! I’m handing back my first assessment to students – first one using SBG and I too am struggling with how this is going to translate into a grade. Early in the semester with so few assessments, marks are completely out of whack anyways. Currently I’ve decided to weight everything as zero so that the only data they see when they log into their marks is their mastery scores and nothing else. As I get closer to reporting out I’m going to hope that I’ll have assessed enough that readjusting the weighting to what my course outline says will produce a number that feels right when I consider each student.

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