How do you prove you can...

What is something at which you KNOW you are good? Anything... cooking, golf, keeping house, your job, soccer, reading.... got something in your head?
Okay.... how do you know you are good at it? How do other people know you are good at it? How many times do you have to do something well to prove you are good at it? Were you always good at it... or are you constantly improving (or getting worse) at this skill?

I've taken on the awesome challenge of proficiency grading. This means that, along with the traditional grade (and don't get me started on how awful those are) I will have a list of ten 8th grade math learning targets (determined by the state and the district) from this term with a judgment on my part reflecting the student's current understanding of that target. I base this judgment on collections of evidence, multiple opportunities to prove mastery, and my daily workings with the students. I am, in theory, letting students and their families know at exactly WHAT they are good.

What does this mean tonight? Pouring over my records of students attempts at things like simplifying square roots, justifying a choice of graph for a data set, and using the Pythagorean Theorem. From this I determine , at this moment of time, on the continuum from Novice to Proficient, where each student is performing.

Someday I hope I can just send out the proficiencies. A list of math skills that every 8th grader should know and then a note explaining to each parent which targets (skills) his or her child has mastered. WHO CARES about a grade? When students comes to my class I want to know what they know, I want to know what they DON'T know so I can help them. A, B, C, D, F tells me none of that. Proficiency reporting does.

Grades are due tomorrow.

So what I'm doing writing this? I have work to do!


  1. Well, to answer your first question:


    I am really good at jumping.


  2. Proficiency grading sounds awesome. It is so much nicer to report to the parents what their child is good at. It softens the blow of reporting where the weaknesses are while at the same time helping their student feel confident about something they're doing at school.