The English Classroom

A GUIDE TO IMPROVING STUDENT LITERACY

As teachers, we individually understand and interpret the judging standards against what students have written. However, my interpretation may be different from yours. How would we ever know that C grade students in my class are being assigned the same grade for the same work that other C grade students are completing in other areas of the school or district.

An assessment moderation is an effective way to assess whether teachers across a team (And often a school) are marking comparatively. The purpose is to provide a variety of ‘samples’, with student names removed from the documents to maintain anonymity and impartiality. These samples should be drawn from a variety of classes and encompass an A, B, C and D grade quality work.

Here are the steps to completing an assessment moderation:

  1. All teachers are provided with these photocopied samples, which they then mark against a universal marking key or rubric. The grading should occur in isolation and not in consultation with other people in the moderation to ensure authentic grading.
  2. Next, teachers meet and record their grades into a table similar to the one above.
  3. Teachers tally the grades and look for outliers (This might be teachers who are grading above or below the average). The teachers who have outlier grades (For example, all teachers assign a 15 or 16 out of 24, but one teacher assigns a 8 or 20) must justify why they assigned this grade. This should be non judgement. No attempt should be made to correct the outlier directly, or suggest they are wrong. This individual will outline why they assigned the recorded grade. Through this discussion, the goal is to identify nuances in the rubric and approaches to the marking. For example, a teacher who has an outlier grade may have noticed some lacking or interesting about the work that other teachers did not pick up on.
  4. From this conversation, the team needs to reach a consensus: what grade do all teachers believe the work should be assigned. Knowing this answer will allow all teachers to have a clearer understanding about how to mark the work. You should have a clearer idea about what an A, B, C and D grade looks likes for this assessment. Record any nuances in the Observations section of the table.
  5. After the grading has been compared, the team needs to develop some takeaways or wonderings. For example, was the assessment too difficult? Did you adequately prepare students? Was the rubric clear enough? What changes should be made for next year? This is a moment of important teacher reflection to identify how the learning programs and assessment can be improved. There is no point keeping the assessment the same if students from a variety of different teachers struggled with the same question(s). It is at this point of the moderation that you need to identify what changes might need to occur.

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