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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

BSP vs. LoA

At the staff meeting on Sunday, my IB Coordinator threw out an invitiation for one-on-one meetings to discuss IB assessment, which is different than our system of assessing grade 7 - 10s. I realized that I didn't really how on earth I was supposed to be assessing the IB students so I set up a meeting which happened this morning. On one hand, I understand the process of assessment much better. On the other hand, I'm more confused than ever! I'm not exactly sure how the work I have done so far will fit into the IB assessments.

I will attempt to summarize the two types of assessment I am required to do. I honestly feel as though writing an explanation down will help me to see where I need clarification.

I'm feeling a little stressed!
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System 1: BSP - Best Sustained Performance (Grade 7 - 10)

This is how I am supposed to assess grade 7 - 10 courses (four out of my 5 courses). From grade 7 -  12, students are graded on a 7 point scale (from the IB). A failure is considered a 0 or a 1, and we must notify the parents if a student ever receives a 2 or lower on a piece of assessment.

This system makes sense to me. I use my professional judgement to give a student a mark based on their best, sustained performance. For example, if a student received a "4" on a formative assessment, a "4" on a formative assessment, and a "5" on a summative assessment, I would give that student a 5. The 5 is their best mark, even though they sustained a 4 longer than the 5. The student also received a 5 on the summative, which was the most recent mark.

To me, this system is encouraging students to do well, but allows them to "tank" one assignment or test without completely destroying their grade.

Side note: all of the students know what formative and summative assessments are. They will seriously ask me, "is this a formative assessment? Are we doing a summative test?" etc. I had never heard of these terms until university, yet they are used so frequently here that students starting in grade 7 begin to use them in their everyday vocabulary. I find this super funny!

System 2: LoA - Level of Achievement (IB Students)

The International Baccalaureate program has a fairly structured grade sytem (for example, all assessment is marked on a 7 point scale). My school has chosen to incorporate a system called LoA, Level of Achievement, to help implement this process. This is how I am supposed to assess my grade 11 IB Music students.

LoA is basically the opposite of BSP.

With Level of Achievement, you take the mark that is the most recent and most relevant to the IB exam or assessment the student will be taking.

For example, if an IB student gets a "5" on a formative asssesment, another "5" on a formative assessment, and a "3" on the summative asssesment, I would be likely to give them a 3 or a 4. The summative assessment is more like the actual IB assessment, and therefore, the LoA they achieved on that assessment is the most important. LoA is still flexible, but it's definitely more merciless than BSP. I will have to give my IB students a grade at the end of each quarter. The LoA is cummulative and continues for the entirety of the course (2 years).

Next comes the weighting. For International Baccalaureate Music Students (Higher Level), the weighting of their IB assessments is as follows:

External Assessment - Paper 1 - 30%
External Assessment - Musical Links Investigation - 20%
Internal Assessment - Creating - 25%
Internal Assessment - Solo Performing - 25%

For right now, I'm not really teaching or assessing multiple areas. But later, I will have to keep track of their marks in four distinctive categories, and then use the weighting system to give them their total mark.

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: every single piece of assessment I do in the IB class must relate to one of these four components of the IB Music program.

Herein lies the problem: My IB students just finished up a unit on music theory. I passionately believe that music theory is imperative to their success in this course, however, it doesn't fit neatly into one of those four categories. It could fit into a couple of them if I adjusted the assessments, but they have already written the tests and are in the process of re-writing the tests.

I can do things in the class that are assessed but not given a grade, which is what I might have to do for the theory unit (unless I adjust it). I don't think anyone will demand to see a breakdown of my marks for my IB students and how they fit in these categories, but I still want to do this correctly. My IB Coordinator told me that at one recent conference, a gentleman from Switzerland told him that his IB teachers never give out grades in the two years of an IB course - only feedback. Wouldn't that be interesting? I don't think that could work here though, as the parents, students, administration, and teachers are very concerned with grades.

I hope you found this somewhat interesting - or perhaps you are just as confused as I am! I'm kidding. It is really starting to make sense to me, and I'm yet again extremely grateful to have such a supportive staff in my school. My IB Coordinator is great, and I'm very glad I had the chance to sit down and talk with him.

Any thoughts? I would love to hear thoughts from other IB teachers!

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