Monday, March 28, 2011

Pupil Performance

Last Friday was our district's PGC day. As for us "non-core" disciplines, we were placed in the same room to discuss rubrics and assessments. It was actually pretty insightful and it got me thinking.... how is everyone else assessing their students?

Being that most of my readers, I'm assuming, are elementary art teachers, I'd love to know how you monitor and grade student progress.

For every project in the middle school (5th and 6th grade), I present them with a "criteria sheet," which discusses a brief background of the lesson, pertinent vocabulary and... the criteria that goes along with the project! This gives each student a heads up on what I'm looking for when I grade their projects.

When the time comes to grade their projects, each student fills out a "grading sheet." The students use this as a kind of check list, reminding them what they might need to work on in order to get a 100. I will admit, some students are perfectly fine grading themselves with a 60. I explain to them, however, that it is their choice how much effort they put forth. I even go a little further and give them the option to earn extra credit by simply holding on to their criteria sheet for the duration of the project, and turning it in with their grading sheet when they're done. (Can it get any easier?) To this day, I still have not had one entire class hand in that criteria sheet.

As you can see, I try to have all my students succeed. My criteria doesn't usually ask to be really great artists, but just to achieve certain objectives. After all, it is 5th and 6th grade art! At the end of each quarter, my students receive an A+ - F. (It used to be an E, S, or U... but I was not going to stand for that!)

As far as my third and fourth graders, we grade on an A1-4 - F system. 1 being high in effort, 4 being low. I'll be honest, since I have these students year after year, and most of it is observing, I kind of just "eyeballed" my students and gave them a grade. Because of our PGC though, I am currently working on a rubric for my personal use to grade the students. I figured I should have something, too, just to cover my butt!

Kindergarten through 2nd, I think I'm going to adopt grading each project with a smiley face chart. It sounds very elementary, yes, but it is a system I think the students will easily understand and it will help me get my point across about their progress.

I'm thinking something similar to above, but associating them with something like: Fantabulous! Good Job!, Not bad! and Could be better (?) Not sure about that last one... just rambling thoughts.

I could easily draw a smiley face on the back of each child's projects, and I think once they go through the system, they'll get used to my grading methods.

Alright... BRAVO to you if you have read all this! Do you use rubrics? Or any forms of assessment? Pre-assessments? In an era where standardized tests are being used to measure student achievement, and with the arts being as subjective as they are, we may need to soon come up with a universal way to gauge student progress.


  1. I am so glad to read this! I, too, have been thinking about how I assess my elementary art students. I have a general "crit" sheet that uses words and smileys (great minds!) for my 2nd-6th graders. . .But, I've been trying to come up with a useful, yet still friendly, visual general crit sheet for my non-readers (or new-to-reading students).

    I like having a general crit sheet because the students (esp elementary age) are familiar with it, and they know what each category means without my having to go over in minute detail every time. But, I also like your idea of a project-specific crit sheet too! I'm gonna have to work that in (esp for some of my longer projects).

    Thanks so much for the ideas and thoughts!!

  2. Great idea on the criteria sheet. It's so important not to overlook the fact that students need to KNOW what we are looking for when assessing. Here is one fun way to assess students that doesn't feel like an assessment!

    Jessica Balsley
    The Art of Education

  3. Jessica- Thanks for sharing! That is a great assessment tool that I could use to wrap up a 10 week period with my 5th and 6th graders. Love it!