Ahh, the harsh and cruel simplicity of the Most Recent calculation type. Before we begin, if you haven't already, you may wish to read our overview of calculation types in JumpRope to understand the options available in the system and how the Most Recent option first in.
So, you or your school has chosen to use the most recent score (per student, per standard) to represent mastery. Let's look at some of the advantages and challenges of this approach:
- It is very simple to understand how it works. This goes for teachers as well as students and parents. Don't underestimate this advantage -- some of the other options are powerful but extremely complex mathematically or conceptually.
- It does a good job of representing "current mastery" assuming that the most recent assessment is at least as (if not more) rigorous than the last.
- It's easy to control. If you feel that a student needs another opportunity to show mastery (because the most recent data point is not accurately representing their work), simply put in another score for the student and the mastery on the standard will update right away.
- You can literally see it grow over time. As you add more evidence, student scores will (hopefully) grow substantially over time, versus other calculation types that will see less "movement" in their scores as new scores come in.
- Bad day syndrome. If a student has a bad day on the day of the test, none of the evidence leading up to the test tempers this.
- Possible solution: provide additional opportunities to show mastery for students that didn't do well. Let them re-take the test or some version of it, for example. The goal is learning, right?
- The multiple modalities problem. In many cases, you may wish to provide opportunities for students to show mastery in different ways, such as written vs. spoken. The Most Recent calculation type will take the most recent score (and last alphabetically, actually, in the case that two assessments have the same date).
- Possible solution: if you create your assessment as "Final Paper and Performance" instead of having two different assessments, you can essentially do the "combining the modalities" step offline and enter the combined score into JumpRope for that target. Doing so loses some data specificity but will represent mastery on the standard more accurately.
- Another possible solution: one way to approach this problem is to write the standards (if you're able to create your own) in JumpRope in such a way that they are specific to a certain modality. In other words, you can split the standard into two standards and score them separately if the modality is very important to represent.
- Students "gaming the system." In other words, once the student figures out that only the most recent assessment counts, many teachers immediately worry about losing the motivational aspect of the grade and fear that students will intentionally sandbag early work (or simply be lazy).
- Comment (with no judgement intended): consider the student in this scenario and what it means about the student, the standard, and the assessment(s) that a student is able to "slack off" early and still show mastery. Might this be evidence more of a students work habits than their academic ability? See this article for some more thoughts on the matter.
- Comment #2: In my experience, just about every grading system ever is "gamed" by kids once they figure it out. I used to game my teachers' grading system all the time. In other words, while this may be "easier to game" in some senses it is not a problem that is unique to the Most Recent calculation type.
- Comment #3: In my experience (from teaching and also working with many teachers), it's actually pretty rare for students to substantially change their existing behavior based on this new calculation type. In other words, students who are engaged in their learning rarely ever suddenly and drastically stop turning things in just because only the most recent score represents their mastery.