To stymie cheating, teachers are changing assessments. Instead of simply reiterating the concepts learned, students are being asked to explain their answers or apply the concepts learned. However, no one shared the changes in how they’ll be assessed with students, inciting frustration amongst students as well as parents, and also teachers.
Online, students have access to calculators, Wikipedia and other materials that can be used to quickly look up answers. That has led many teachers to move away from simply asking for the correct answer on a test, and instead assign more value to participation in class discussions, explanation of answers and project-based work.EdSource, October 27, 2020
Groomed in the academic meritocracy, previously, students earn the rewards of A’s with factual recall or rote memorization. Yet, now, in the distance learning model, being asked to explain their answers, a more advanced form of comprehension, is unfamiliar for students but also requires more nuanced pedagogy by teachers.
Yet, teachers, already pressed to transform their curriculum for a virtual environment are challenged in building individualized connections with each student to differentiate instruction. Many teachers report up to 75% of cameras amongst 35 students turned off during classes, so often they’re unsure how to gauge a student’s learning in order to help each one comprehend class material beyond the memorization stage.
Amidst the adjustment to demonstrating their learning in new ways, students may earn lower grades on tests. Parents and students may panic about the unexpected academic decline, imagining a loss of competitiveness for college admissions. Simultaneously, teachers may be frustrated, not gaining the necessary feedback about student’s performance to continue transforming their pedagogy for an online environment so students learn.
As both educator and student navigate the transformation of K-12 schools, spurred by the COVID-induced disruption, academic grades are indicative of learning new protocols as much as a reflection of understanding class concepts. The more parents and students understand the subtlety of an academic grade, they can both reduce their stress and build effective learning partnerships with teachers.