According to John Hattie, it is a right for students to know what they will be assessed and taught. Honestly, I never thought about it from that perspective but I would have to agree. He further mentions that our marks and evaluations can affect the progress, choice paths and dreams of our students.
This got me thinking about why going gradeless is such an important endeavour to pursue. Hattie mentions that teacher clarity has a .75 effect size (anything over .4 is considered great). That is huge! But it makes sense. If students understand what the teacher is evaluating and what they will be learning then they can and will be successful.
How many times have we said to ourselves or colleagues, “but I taught it! Why don’t they get it?” I know I have done this so many times that I can’t even begin to count. It is one of the reasons that I moved to a feedback based assessing the program and eventually to a gradeless classroom.
Now I know we also have the curriculum and I guess we can say these communicate the learning but 1) these standards are not written for students and 2) these standards aren’t even clear sometimes for teachers. Hattie talks about learning intentions. Here are some key ideas to think about:
1) learning intentions should be shared with students so that students understand then and what success looks like
2) learning does not happen in a neat, linear sequence; therefore, the cascade from the curriculum aim through the achievement objective to the learning intention is something complex
3) learning intentions and activities can be grounded it one activity can contribute to more than one learning intention or one learning intention may need several activities for students to understand it fully
4) learning intentions are what we intend students to learn other things not planned for, so teachers need to be aware of unintended consequences
Again, when we make these intentions clear and inviting it will have a bigger impact on learning than not doing it. Margaret Smith and Mary Kay Stein write:
The key is to specify a goal that clearly identifies what the students are to know and understand about (insert subject) as a result ot their engagement in a particular lesson (Smith and Stein, 2011)
Now, this may all sound familiar to many of us in Ontario as we have had it in Growing Success but when reading Hattie’s comments it was just another aha moment to keep in mind, as well as, serve to validate and affirm that feedback based assessments, clear learning goals and success criteria are needed. We as educators have a huge impact on the world. We are the difference that makes the difference.
You may also find this graphic and interesting conversation starter.
For more info on gradeless classrooms view my posts or follow Starr Sackstein and #TTOG for more information.