A Conversation About Grading

If you are not already familiar with how skill levels in Ardor work I suggest you read Understanding Ardor Skill Levels before continuing. 

There are many things to consider when assigning grades.  In this article we will tackle three.

  1. What do the grades represent?
  2. How often should I assign them.
  3. How does Ardor fit into the overall grade for your math class? 

What do grades represent? 

The first task is to define the purpose of what a grade means in your classroom.  Some schools clearly define this philosophy for teachers. Other schools leave it up to a individual teachers professional discretion. When I talk with teachers I often hear a wide range of opinions. 

"Effort matters. If they don't do the homework they can't get an A."

"Grades need to reflect motivation. It is important to keep hope alive."

"Grades should match student skill. Period."

The purpose of this article is not find philosophical consensus.  The purpose is to help you define what a grade represents so you can effectively integrate Ardor into your classroom.  

Ardor does all of the corrective grading automatically. That data is piped to the teacher. The teacher now has access to a wealth of information.  A teacher now knows how many problems a student completed, the percentage correct and the highest skill level reached.  But how does the skill level translate into a grade?  There are many different grading scales such as traditional A through F scale and a balanced grading scale.  You might enjoy looking at the Wikipedia article on all the different variants used around the world. 

If you are using a standards based grading philosophy then translating Ardor skill levels into a grade would be an easy logical step. I suggest you assign the grade given for demonstrating proficiency to level 3.  For example using a traditional A through F scale a B often indicates proficiency. (Figure 1 shows an example.) 

(Figure 1)

Traditional A-F Scale

Level 0    F
Level 1    D
Level 2    C
Level 3    B
Level 4+  A 

Four-Point Balanced Scale.

Level 0    0
Level 1    1
Level 2    2
Level 3    3
Level 4+  4


How Often Should I assign Grades? 

The Ardor teacher dashboard reports a student skill level for each problem type in real-time. That means that a student who in week one is at a level 2 might be at level 3 by week two. Before we continue it is important to note that Ardor is not intended to be a summative assessment. Ardor is intended to provide math practice and monitor progress. Therefore if Ardor is being used as part of a classroom grade philosophically Ardor should be viewed as a formative assessment.  From conversations with teachers who are using Ardor Math three approaches have emerged. 

  1. The Formative Sufficiency Approach
  2. The Formative Proficiency Approach
  3.  Don't Grade Formative Assessments

The Formative Sufficiency Approach

In this approach the philosophy suggests that the rate of learning and the students ability to repeatedly demonstrate proficiency are important factors to a student's grade.   A teacher using Ardor could take weekly or bi-monthly snapshots. For example You could tell the class that you will positing a grade for one-step equations this Friday. In this scenario you would post in your gradebook a formative grade that represents the level each student achieved on one step equations.  Then a week or two later you could take another snap shot of one variable equations. This gives you a grade that reprents a students progress and repeated demonstration of proficiency or sufficiency. 

The Formative Sufficiency Approach

In this approach the philosophy suggests that the final grade should represent only skill level as measured on both formative and summative assessments. In this approach Ardor is used to monitor progress. Teachers take snapshots of different problem types. However, in this approach teachers override the older snapshot with the current skill level. 

Don't Grade Formative Assessments

In this approach the philosophy is that only summative assessments (Tests) should be used as part of the grade. In this scenario Ardor is not entered into the gradebook at all. Ardor is instead used to monitor and adjust lesson plans based on student progress.  Ardor gives the teacher the confidence that students are ready for a summative assessment.

How does Ardor fit into the overall grade for your math class? 

 The answer to this question depends on your personal philosophy.  Do you give weekly quizzes?  Do you put quizzes into the gradebook? Could Ardor be used as a quiz replacement? What percent of formative assessments are entered into the gradebook? Do you grade homework?  What does homework represent? Is it a snapshot of progress? Could you use a Formative Sufficiency Approach using Ardor as a homework replacement?  Given that Ardor gives you real-time data on student progress. Would you wait to give a summative assessment until students demonstrated proficiency? Would you give such an assessment early if the class was ready?  

We want to hear from you.  Please tell us how you use Ardor in the classroom. Leave us a comment below. 



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