Yesterday, when I introduced the grading policy, there was a thoughtfulness to their reaction. One or two said they liked it. The rest seemed open to it.
Today, as we discussed what sorts of marks they thought a person should have to earn an A, an A-, etc., they had more and more "what if" scenarios, which led to more and more complicated acceptable conversion rules. I'm not really surprised by that, but I am pretty discouraged by how readily they accepted the thought that you aren't going to be able to be proficient in every skill in a math class. That there's at least always one idea that you can't get no matter how hard you work. But as long as you work pretty hard at it, your teacher should still give you an A, because you know everything else.
There was a bit of an outcry when I admitted that my original inclination was that if you have a beginning score on any skill, you can't get any higher than a C.
(Here's the criteria for "beginning" again:
I'm willing to allow for a "beginning" mark up to a B-. I just don't see how I can say you've earned a B or an A if you there's a concept that you have essentially NO understanding of.)
The atmosphere of the room just felt like it was getting darker and darker. A few times my responses to the "what if" questions actually reassured the girl asking, but it wasn't often.
It was discouraging to watch them push so much against something I've worked so hard on because they're still so focused on the end grade. I realize I opened this can of worms by starting a conversation specifically about the end grade, but I wanted them to have input on it, because I know they have strong ideas about "fair and right". I just didn't realize they were so different from mine! (At least when it comes to grades...)
I do understand where they're coming from. They don't really have any idea what a "developing" response would look like. Or an "advanced" response. In fact, they asked if I could provide some examples of student work that would fall into the different categories. They're scared that it's going to be next to impossible to earn an "advanced" mark. They're scared that there will be so much to have memorized at all times. They want to know that this grading system will give them an A- if the traditional grading system would have given them an A-.
I'm hoping once we get into the routine they'll be reassured - that experience with the process will make more sense of it all.