A Weighty Discussion
PGGP uses relational weights. PGGP does not use categories.
In other words, PGGP allows traditional assignments to be
weighted. An assignment weighted 2 is figured into the average
twice... as if you did that column twice on your calculator.
PGGP does not set up categories such as "Tests" and make "Tests" 50% of
Of course this is a deal breaker for some potential customers. If
you teach in a district where a high school like category system is
used, you may not like PGGP. (This often happens... that high
school grading techniques are foisted off on the elementary teachers.)
Categories are not bad, but they are hard for students (and
teachers) to understand some times.
Why Relational Weights
In elementary school we do practice work. In math we typically
teach a concept and then we give some exercises to let the students
practice. It is pretty easy to develop a ratio of practice to
tests or practice to quiz to test. For example let's say we have:
Tests = 12
Quizzes = 4
Practice = 1
When I weigh a math test 12 and I tell a 5th grader, you just got a 62%
on a test that is worth 12 practice pages, the kid can grasp that.
The student does not have to deal with how many tests there will
eventually be, only that this one is way more important than practice
and I didn't do too well.
Elementary is different that high school. We don't often know how
many tests we will get though in the next few weeks. Oh we try,
and some districts are moving to the "teach this at 10:00 am on the 5th
and teach this at 10:00 am on the 6th" sort of mentality. It is
my theory that this will come apart like wet bread one of these days,
because good elementary teachers teach what is needed today to build
for tomorrow. We are constantly analyzing our students, creating
groups and sub groups to scaffold and front load information so kids
can learn. There are days when we can't teach what they want on
the 6th because there was a special assembly on the 5th!
Why No Categories
If I use Categories, then it is more complicated. Let's say we have:
Tests = 50%
Quizzes = 25%
Practice = 25%
A 5th grader gets a 62% on the first test. To be honest to the
child, I have to say, you got 62% on one of 4 tests that eventually are
going to add up to 50% of your grade. Of course, if this is the
first test then the one test is 50% of the grade. If there are
two tests, then each one is worth 25% of the grade. (Don't
confuse the poor kid by telling him that quizzes are also 25% of
the grade.) I have seen teachers using categories really
confused by final grades when one of the categories has yet to have any
entries. What is happening if we have three quizzes, 8 practice
assignments, but have not given a test? (I'll let you do the
Remember, in high school, teachers often know exactly what page they
will be on every day and the tests are given on the prescribed day
whether the class is ready or not, and so categories may make more sense.
But I Like PGGP and Must Use Categories
PGGP can sort of do the category thing.
In my example, above, if my ratio of Practice to Tests is 12 to
1, I basically have created a 50-50 category. If I kept the
ratio pure, I would do something like:
12 practice pages = 1 each (total of 12)
2 tests = 12 each (total of 24)
3 quizzes = 4 each (total of 12)
and there you have it.
No easy way out of this.
Categories save you from having to think about how many grades you have
for each category. The down side is that if you have a bad
quarter, the kids bog down, and you only give 3 of the 4 tests, each
one just jumped in power. With PGGP you can instantly change the
weights of assignments or tests. Play with weights until they
makes sense to you.
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