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Details Matter
Traditional letter grades hide student learning gaps that can cripple future learning while making it perfectly  acceptable to move forward.

Managing & Tracking Student Learning to Maximize Prior Knowledge Effect


The A·B·D system features a shared library of content as the common denominator allowing course content scopes to be defined as the basis for tracking student learning achievement.

The key to effectively managing and tracking student learning is having a course plan with well-defined and measureable content – what students are expected to know and be able to do. We call that list of content the course scope. It’s the result of deriving fine-grained content from standards with target cognitive levels.

If you follow our recommended standards implementation process, every unit and every lesson for a course will have specific content allocated as the learning objectives.

Everyone understands the concept of measuring progress against a plan, but without discrete measurable content objectives, the measurements don’t provide very useful feedback. And, since we are used to letter grading where a class average of “C” is acceptable, todays feedback is simply a recorded grade unless a student is a consistent low performer.

We propose tracking and managing learning at the teachable and measureable content level for each student. This fine-grained data can easily be converted into letter grades if needed, but the real value is in the details. The illustration makes the point that overall learning success is measured by the achievement of learning each discrete content item. Gaps in learning diminish the overall quality of learning just like missing or blurred pixels in an image. Early gaps in core areas become the missing prior knowledge that can cripple learning progress.

Learning is not a standardized process. Every student enters a course with a different learning profile; every student learns in different ways; every student learns at different rates. Tracking each student’s learning with a detailed record of achievement personalizes education. You say grades are personal. Yes, but grades are a summative report. They aren’t directly readable and actionable like knowing exactly what learning gaps exist.

George gets a “C”. He needs to work harder next time. Wrong. George needs to go back and learn the important content he missed. Support staffs can read the reports, provide specialized assistance and make their own observations. Students can see the gaps, work on them and demonstrate achievement to the teacher. Parents can see the gaps, understand exactly what needs to be learned and actually help their child for real engagement.