Skills-based Grading and Skills Portfolio Update
I wanted to give an update to my skills-based grading system adventure. After a crazy year of mostly in-person but definitely not normal learning, I got some good takeaways and made some important adjustments to my skills-based grading and skills portfolio assessment systems. Skills-based grading does not have to be done via portfolios, but they do go nicely together. For a better understanding of my motivations and methods, including skills-base grading and digital portfolios for assessment, see some of my previous blog posts themed around skills. Maybe scroll down and start with the earlier entries and work up if you really want to kill some time.
I have found the skills-based grading system to be a meaningful and robust alternative to traditional and standards-based grading systems. Skills-based takes more work to establish in the beginning but the payoff in the end with a full course look at growth of actual important takeaways from class, rather than measurement of temporary retention of content, make the front end loading requirements well worth it. A big part of the heavy lifting in the beginning is establishing portfolios as the platform for assessment. Without portfolios I think you could hit the ground running earlier with skills-based, but the payout in the end would not be as much.
Even with my previous list of 15 skills, which is much shorter than most lists of standards in standards-based grading, organized into five categories, I found it was complicated enough that some students got lost in the ocean of tasks and details and they sometimes lost the big picture. It also made regular updates and assessment of portfolios more difficult. They were just really long to write and read. Some of it felt like hoop-jumping.
- Investigation -- I can research, design and execute an experiment to test a question using the results to drive further inquiry.
- Solution design -- I can model nature with detailed diagrams, mathematics and simulations.
- Collaboration -- I can contribute positively to cooperative learning.
- Metacognition -- I can use feedback and personal reflection to evaluate my progress and plan for further skills growth.
- Communication -- I can convey my understanding and publish my results.
Portfolio reflections moved to Metacognition journals
Simple means more opportunity