Monday, August 25, 2014

Cheating: poor choice vs. academic mastery... (68)

Happy new school year!

Hopefully the school year is off to a great start for everyone.

For these next several weeks, we plan to use the Monday Morning Memo to talk about our beliefs on learning and how our grading/assessing procedures/practices ultimately impact student learning. So, each week we will try and tackle a different topic that impacts and affects student learning.

As you may know, we've done a book study at the MS, we've sent folks to conferences, and we are fortunate enough to be having Rick Wormeli come and speak to our district in October in a two-day event on the topic of standards based and mastery learning.

A topic that people are very passionate about and a topic that always seems to come up when talking about grading is 'what do you do when students cheat?' 

The traditional approach would have any student who cheats receive a zero on the assignment and possibly some kind of additional behavioral punishment.

As a district we are moving toward ensuring that a grade actually represents what a student knows and is able to do and not their ability to make moral and ethical decisions. To stand behind this belief, we had to do more than just talk about it... we had to put pen to paper when it comes to our district policies.

Now make no mistake, we aren't saying that cheating and these types of behaviors are acceptable, but we do believe that the behavior needs to be separate from the academic side of things if we want a grade to truly represent and reflect what a student knows.

We will still focus on helping students to make moral and ethical decisions, but that progress and monitoring won't be included in a student's academic discussion.

So, since some of you may not be aware, below are our new district policies in regard to student cheating. You will notice that it is now no longer an option to reduce a student's grade due to cheating. The student will receive a behavioral punishment, but they will be given the opportunity to complete an alternate assignment for full-credit so they can demonstrate their level of mastery.

Remember, if it's worth assigning then it is worth doing which in turn means it's worth providing feedback and input to our students. An assignment where there is no actionable feedback/input available for students isn't worth doing. Also, feedback/input doesn't always need to and shouldn't always come in the form of a grade...

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