Grading and Group Work: How do I assess individual learning when students work together? (ASCD Arias)

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Some committees may be standing, others ad hoc. Some may be composed of teachers, and so defined by naturally existing groups like teams, departments, and grade levels. Some may consist only of parents; others may be representative of all constituencies. Whether the relationship between the committees and the site council is formal approval or informal advisory , the committee structure with overlapping memberships provides a communication network that is critical to an effective council.

Enabling leadership. Strong councils are usually led, though not always chaired, by strong principals and sometimes teachers who exercise leadership by mobilizing others.

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They encourage all parties to participate. And they model inquiry and reflection. Such leaders create schoolwide ownership of the improvement agenda so that principal turnover or a change in council membership does not bring efforts to a halt.

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Focus on student learning. Not all issues have a direct influence on student learning, but strong councils consciously connect non-instructional decisions with conditions that maximize learning opportunities. For example, a decision to invest in classroom telephones to facilitate communication between teachers and parents will also affect students. By linking all issues to teaching and learning, council members don't lose sight of the ultimate goal. Focus on adult learning.

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There are two points here. First, council members need new skills, assistance, and practice in asking hard questions and gathering evidence about what is and is not working.

Second, councils need to appreciate that their constituencies—parents and educators—require access to new knowledge and skills, both to be active decision makers and to change their teaching and learning practices and beliefs. Schoolwide perspective. Functioning councils focus on the collective interests of the parties, devoting their energy to school goals and direction, coordination and communication, and allocation of resources and equity.

They do not get caught up in details of management or curriculum, and they do not get waylaid by individual agendas. Naturally most parents will be thinking about their own children's needs, and most teachers will be thinking about their own classrooms, and so they might be defensive. Moreover, everyone may lack confidence in a new process that carries considerable responsibility. Not many schools are able to create on their own the conditions I have described, particularly when strong enabling leadership is absent.

To learn how to do it, most schools require support from their district or state agencies, including the following: Long-term commitment. Councils cannot evolve into effective decision-making bodies at the school site if the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other every two or three years. Site-based management cannot be the reform du jour that changes authority and flexibility when the superintendent changes. Sustained commitment is essential. The process is hard work and takes time.

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Curricular guidance. Schools need a substantive framework within which to make appropriate choices. Whether that guidance is best communicated in the form of learning goals and standards, curriculum or content guides, or assessments is an open question—as is the way in which choices about such guidance are made. The goal of site-based management is not to let a thousand flowers bloom nor to force every school to reinvent itself from scratch.

In addition, everyone from classroom teachers to other members of committees who diagnose problems must have opportunities to learn new ways of operating, including mediating techniques.

School councils must reflect the existing culture. For most schools, if real improvement is to occur, individual beliefs and, ultimately, the school culture will need to change. Opportunities for learning and assistance. Districts can provide resources for the kinds of learning opportunities that adults in schools need to change classroom practices and to function effectively as council and committee members. School councils will necessarily reflect the existing culture. Most councils, but especially those with local conflicts and limited experience in collaborative problem solving, will need assistance and access to facilitation and mediation.

For most schools, if site-based management is to lead to improvement, individual beliefs and, ultimately, the culture of the school site will need to change. Access to information. Schools must have easy access to the information needed to make decisions, including everything from budget to performance data. A decentralized system can function well only when each unit knows how it is doing. Although schools can gather certain data from students, teachers, and the community, they cannot be expected to have the data collection and analysis capability that a larger organization can support.

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Moreover, because the system has its own needs for information, the flow must go in both directions. Making fundamental changes in systems as complex as state and local school systems raises a number of questions for which there are no pat answers. The solutions simply have to be worked out by those involved. Among these difficult issues are questions of equity, adult learning, decision making, and changing conceptions of teaching and of community.

What policies and supports will ensure that site-based management does not exacerbate resource differences among schools? Schools in poorer neighborhoods tend to have fewer resources and less educated populations.

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They are at risk of being further disadvantaged under a decentralized system. How can site-based management create a sense of community in schools that draw from a large geographic area, as do most secondary schools; and in schools in districts with desegregation plans, choice, open enrollment, or magnet schools?

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Parents and staff at such schools may not have access to transportation or time to participate in school decision making. New ideas for teacher professional development are emerging, but where are the opportunities for principals, central office staff, and parents to learn new roles and ways to assist site councils? How should teachers' jobs be redefined to allow time for collaborative decision making and ongoing professional development? Both teachers and the public believe that teachers should devote their time to students, and teachers are finding classroom demands take increasing time and energy.

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How can site-based management be structured to balance school autonomy and flexibility with certain centralized operations that require consistency, coordination, and legal constraints? For example, collective bargaining, transportation, and government regulations may all affect class size, schedules, services, and how facilities are used. What is the best public education analogue to private sector work teams, and where do parents and community members fit in?

That is, decentralized private organizations delegate authority to work teams that don't involve the public. It was perfect.

Assessing Group Work

Every member of the group had a role. Group leader, recorder, stuff gatherer, etc.

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How to assess and grade individual achievement of learning goals after group projects. Why having students work together is a good thing—but group grades are Sue Brookhart, author of the ASCD Arias Grading and Group Work, says that. Grading and Group Work: How do I assess individual learning when students work together? (ASCD Arias) Availability: In Stock.

But as was true when I was in middle school, one kid in the group took the lead and wound up doing most, if not all the work. Sometimes that kid was me. And I did it because I loved to learn, but I really wanted a good grade too. Then came the time for me to give the students a grade. You know, because at the time, that is what I had to do. And I really struggled. I knew not every student did equal work. But did they all deserve an equal grade?

Do I let them grade each other? I used various methods some successful, some not so much. As the subtitle says: "How do I assess individual learning when students work together? As Brookhart points out, cooperative learning is highlighted by students working together on something project, assignment, etc but each student is accountable for their own work.

Rather in group work is students working together on a singular project or assignment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Learning How to Teach Controversial Topics. Classroom Podcasting for the Middle Grades. Inviting Mr. Bring Focus and Fun to Academic Vocabulary.

ASCD Arias Publication: Grading and Group Work

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