In my Standards-Based Grading post last weekend, Anon Y. Mous asked that I explain the rationale behind each of the core guidelines involved in the S.B.G. system. I think it’s a good suggestion and here is the sixth core guideline. Please comment with any corrections as I am still learning this new system.
When students work in groups, an individual’s progress and current achievement level cannot be ascertained. Individuals should be assessed only about how they are meeting a standard or in progress towards a standard. Thus, group grades would be seen as formative (not recorded for a grade) and not summative (recorded for a grade).
I must admit that I do record group grades, and I believe in group work (to a degree), but I am very cautious about what I allow to be group work.
The groups in my class have to assign the points themselves. First, I give each group project a score, let’s say 90/100. Then I take the points earned, 90, and multiply it by the number of group members. I normally make groups of three for most projects, so the students would now have 270 points to divvy up. I then hand out a sheet where each group member must:
- show me how many points each student earns (and no group is allowed to just divide the total by three),
- detail a rationale for each student’s score, and
- sign the sheet agreeing to the points.
They discuss the entire process, and I only intervene when the groups can’t agree. I have only once had to step in and help.
I like this process since every student must justify his/her efforts and products, and the students essentially agree to their individual grades. The group grade simply starts a process and is actually just a basic guide.