I still remember when I was at school, in the Maths department, after each test, a new list was produced. This list placed each student from 1 to 125, in order of test average. There were the 4 cut off lines indicating the 5 sets.
I don't recall ever having a problem with this, and to my memory, nor did anyone. That's just the way it was. Maybe we were just grammar school boys who in all honesty were more worried about who had a football for the game at lunch?
However recently a class asked me (usually my front row do such tasks) to give out their tests, face down so no one could see. I do teach all girls, and this was their first unit test, but this was even another step away from my own school experience. A big part of me said, 'what's the big deal here?'; another part said 'they took my test seriously!'.
In some respects, it's a little odd as I have this year set all homework via Edmodo and graded it on there. I agreed a simple system of 20/20 - excellent, 15/20 - good, 10/20 - minimum and 5/20 - unacceptable. Why 20? Unit tests are also out of 20. Students can only see their own scores, but I wondered in the value of them seeing the whole classes, like I can?
I decided to do homework this way for the first time this year with my two GCSE sets and feedback has been very positive. Students can keep track of what is owing and can redo to improve mark. I have given greater feedback and have frequently entered into dialogue with students about their work.
But test grades... Is this a step too far?
It's possible I will alienate and disengage with some students by adding grades to Edmodo. They may feel embarrassed as either strugglers or high flyers. These are the ones that matter, that parents know about, that are recorded in SIMS. Maybe they had off day? Maybe they are finding it harder than their peers? Maybe they're not actually in the right set? Maybe I'm just highlighting and reinforcing every single fear, worry and feeling of inadequacy?
However, could it raise attainment and introduce competition with a race to the top? Could it see students determined to improve? Could students look at their peers and say, 'I can do that!'. A positive focus on my Springsteen-borrowed line, "no one wins unless we all win"?
What to do?
Unfortunately it seems to be a risky topic. To lose my students at this time would be a disaster, or would they quickly get over it?
What do you do? What would you do?