We were riding high after a great ATI Summer Conference, but it was soon time to get back to work. For over a decade, ATI has offered its popular December Grading Conference and plans are well underway to repeat the event again this year. Our presenters and authors were brimming with ideas, and Rick Stiggins was no exception.
As standards-based, or proficiency-based grading gains traction, Rick urged us to stay ahead of the field by expanding our subject matter to address other practices that contribute to better student outcomes by improving feedback from teachers.
This year, grading practices will be just one of several topics related to communication about student achievement address in the conference sessions. Conference participants will have the opportunity to study the basic principles of effective communication about student learning in any school context.
The first key to success is the clear sense of the reason why we are communicating. Is it to support student learning or report a judgment of the sufficiency of that learning? The way we communicate varies with context.
The second key is always a clear understanding of what it is we intend to communicate about. In this case, we need a clear vision of the learning target that both message sender and message receiver understand.
Key #3 is dependable evidence of each student’s achievement status with respect to the target in question. Of course, this requires high-quality assessment.
The next key is careful recordkeeping and summarizing of information where appropriate in preparation for communicating. And the final key is the careful transformation of that evidence into terms the recipient of the communication can understand and act upon.
These principles can and will be applied to our discussions of grading to be sure. But, in addition, will address them in conferencing options: feedback conferences, goal setting conferences, achievement conferences, and intervention conferences. We will consider them as they relate to portfolios, parent/teacher conferences and student-led conferences.
Another theme of the event will consider the differences in keys to effective communication in formative and summative contexts. What are the keys when the purpose is to help students watch themselves grow and feel in control of that growth? How do those keys change with assigning a report card grade intended to reflect the extent of student achievement of priority achievement standards.
To reflect this expanded array of offerings, we plan to transition the conference title from the ATI Sound Grading Practices Conference to the ATI Sound Grading & Communication Practices Conference. We are excited to share with you the changes that we’ve made based on feedback from attendees and presenters, and hope you’ll join us in Portland this winter: December 1-2, 2016. Register here.