Our principal has asked us to choose one of many book studies to work through. Although I had already read Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” and really wanted to join that book group, I decided on “Classroom Assessment and Grading That Works” by Robert J. Marzano. I had read two of his other books “Classroom Instruction That Works” and “Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works“. I choose Marzano’s book because as a computer trainer for the last 17 years I rarely had to give grades or even rate my students. I just taught. So I feel like assessment and grading is new to me and not one of my strengths.
The first chapter reminded me that “formative assessment does improve learning”. The studies that Marzano refers to are amazing.
*taken from the book.
Marzano discusses that there are usually two types of students attribution theory and drive theory. The drive theory is that most students are driven by the fear of failure or striving for success. They become either success driven or failure avoidant. Success driven students love challenges because they see a place where they can succeed, failure-avoidant students hate challenges because it represents that they might fail. The attribution theory takes it another way in that students want to attribute their success to four things: ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty. These two theories are usually combined in most individuals. Marzano states, “Drive theory and attribution theory provide plausible explanations as to why assessment feedback might be encouraging to some students and discouraging to others. . . First, teachers must provide students with a way to interpret even low scores in a manner that does not imply failure. If not, failure- avoidant students will continually be discouraged when they do not receive high scores. Second, teachers must provide students with evidence that effort on their part results in higher scores.”
After Chapter 1, the book study discussed that assessment needs to have much more feedback and be done frequently. We no longer can hand back what is correct and not correct. We need feedback. We need to allow the students to repeat skills until they can do them correctly.
Chapter 2 discusses the uses of standards or objectives. Marzano believes that states should have standards but that schools and teachers should have some flexibility with the standards. He also warns of the issues when standards are not tested individually. In general the United States has too many standards and not enough depth of study. Standards should really address “what is essential” for students to learn in each grade level.
Marzano also discusses the need for 21st Century and executive skills being taught to students. Executive skills include self-discipline, punctuality, , work completion, behavior, and dependability. 21st Century skills include participation and working in groups.