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What's in a Grade?

A short tale about how we calculate your grade and why we do it this way.

Brian Carpenter

on 4 September 2014

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Transcript of What's in a Grade?

The mechanics and philosophy of grades
in physics.
Grades in Physics
What does a grade mean?
How do you calculate grades?
How do I improve my grade?
Grades serve two purposes - feedback and ranking.
This grade tells the student that they need to improve, but doesn't tell them how to do that.
There is no pool of learning that everyone is competing for.
Everyone can learn physics or computer science.
There is no need to rank students, since you aren't competing. Instead, we can focus on using grades for feedback.
Why not tell the student what you expect them
to know and how well they know it?

Instead of learning, they might feel
like giving up
afraid to ask for help

That's what we do in this class.
We combine this with targeted written feedback on assessments so that you know what to focus your studies on.
Each time you take a quiz, you will receive feedback and a score on the learning objectives being covered.
As the year progresses, you'll get new scores on old objectives and new objectives will begin to show up.
The score for a learning objective is a weighted average with the
most recent
score worth 70% of the total.

The daily course grade will be the average of all learning objective scores. You can find the scale for letter grades on Haiku.
We'll use an electronic tool, called ActiveGrade, which is part of Haiku, and (for physics) sheets in each unit packet to help you track your progress.
Daily Course Grade
* 80% +
Semester exams
* 20% =
Final Grade
Your first, and best, option is practice.
Myelin production
Clearer nerve impulses
Getting better at what you practice
Practice tips
What? The objectives that you struggle with.
When? Before and after an assessment.
How? Practice deeply at the edge of your ability.
You've practiced. Now what?
"May I please have a quiz? I really know this now."
You can either wait for the next assessment on that objective (remember, they show up again), or....
...you can initiate an assessment of your own.
"Do I really want another quiz?"
"Well, have you practiced?"
"Yeah. Quite a bit."
"Do you know the objective better than you used to?"
"Way better."
"Then request an assessment. That way you know how far you've come and how far you may need to go."
"And if I do better this time, my grade goes up?"
"Yes. That's how learning works and it's how grades work in this class."
"What if I do worse this time?"
"That can be frustrating, but it's important to know how much practice you need. Learning that now will let you improve your understanding (and grade) in the future."
"Okay. I want a quiz. How do I get one?"
Fill out the request form on Haiku and submit evidence of your practice on paper to me.
Read the guidelines. (One request per week, up to two goals per request, etc.)
Once I get the request, I'll put a quiz in the test folder for you.

That's it. All of the information (letter grade scale, request form, FAQ, etc.) is on the same Haiku page as this presentation. If you have other questions, let me know.
I hope this has been a helpful resource.
-Mr. Carpenter
Credit: Sunshine State News Archives (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/)
Credit: Hyperbole and a Half (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/)
Credit: xkcd (xkcd.com)
Credit: ActiveGrade (http://activegrade.com/)
Your final grade uses the typical weighting of all Upper School courses.
You're 2nd and 1st semester grades are not separate. The Daily Course Grade just builds throughout the year.
What do those scores mean? Are they points?
The scores are a shorthand way of communicating to you how well you are able to do the things I've asked you to do.
Full transcript