Science Grades: Difference between Practice Tasks and Summative Tasks

Dear Parents,

I wanted to take a quick minute to fill you in on the two types of grades that you will see in your child’s science average:

Practice Tasks (worth 10% of your child’s grade): Practice tasks are tasks that are designed to give everyone — parents, students, teachers — information on the progress that a student is making towards mastering required objectives. They are most often short quizzes or worksheets completed during one class period after we have studied a bit of content.

Because practice tasks happen during the course of instruction, I don’t want them to count significantly towards your child’s overall average. Students are not expected to have completely mastered content when practice tasks are given. They are designed to help parents, students and teachers get a sense for how much studying kids have to do in order to understand classroom content. That’s why they are weighted at just 10% of your child’s grade.

If you are familiar with educational jargon, practice tasks in my classroom are most similar to formative assessments.

Summative Tasks (worth 90% of your child’s grade): Summative tasks are designed as a final measure of your child’s mastery of required objectives. They are most often longer assignments that we have spent significant time on during the course of class. Often, they are the written products from labs that we are conducting in class. They are also tests taken after we’ve worked our way through large chunks of content from individual units.

Students will get plenty of time to work on/prepare for summative tasks. They will also get additional support materials — rubrics, exemplars, study guides — whenever they are working on summative tasks.

Hope this helps,
Bill Ferriter