Following a reevaluation of what students are working on, flipped class teachers are also reconsidering how to evaluate students. Does every student need to take the same test or performance evaluation for the instructor to assess them fairly and accurately? Or can each student participate in the process of deciding how they will be assessed?

Some students who do not know anything outside this paradigm may choose to take a traditional exam, but others (especially students who may not typically express their comprehension well through a tightly constructed exam) may elect to demonstrate their content knowledge or skill competence through some other project or product.

Teachers concerned with fairly assessing a traditional exam versus a project could use the same evaluation rubric to assess both the exam and the project. By abandoning the [POINTS SCORED]/[POINTS POSSIBLE] approach to grading a test and instead looking at each answered question as evidence of mastery of a particular objective, teachers can evaluate any form of assessment fairly and with confidence that the reported score is reflective of the student’s understanding of the material.

Reporting mastery instead of points

When learning, rather than point acquisition, becomes the goal, teachers face a difficult reality. To put it bluntly, compliance does not equal learning; point acquisition does not equal learning; busyness does not equal learning. To report these things as if they do reflect learning is unfair and inaccurate. The natural consequence of this reality is a move toward a standards-based grading system. When the grading system’s focus shifts to students’ mastery of objectives—rather than compliance with arbitrary scoring systems—the classroom focus shifts toward learning.

Transitioning away from a compliance-based and points-driven learning culture is not a necessary consequence of flipping, but it is a natural consequence. This transition in assessment practice causes both teachers and students to reevaluate the motivating factors behind school, making learning, rather than scoring, the focus.

A reader may note, at this point, that this article has been less about a flipped classroom than it is about rethinking student work and its assessment. So, why bring up flipped learning at all? Is flipping a necessary step to implementing active learning, objective-based planning, or standards based-grading? Or are these outcomes simply logical results of flipping a class?

The latter is the obvious choice. Many schools successfully use standards-based grading without flipping. Many classrooms are active and engaged without being flipped. Many teachers plan using objectives and would never consider flipping their class. However, if any school leadership is facing resistance to any of these classroom approaches, they should consider the flipped approach as a first step to facilitating the transition.

About the Author:

Aaron Sams has been an educator since 2000. He operates the education consulting firm Sams Learning Designs, is an Adjunct Professor at Saint Vincent College, and serves as an advisor to TED-Ed. In 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching while teaching Chemistry in Woodland Park, CO, and serving as co-chair of the Colorado State Science Standards Revision Committee. Aaron has co-authored seven books on the flipped classroom concept. You can follow him on Twitter @ChemicalSams.

Justin Aglio is the Director of Innovation at Montour School District in Pennsylvania. Recently, he was mentioned as a 2016 “Edtech and Elearning Top 100 Influencer” by Onalytica. He was honored by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology as the 2014 Outstanding Leader of the Year. In 2013, ISTE named him as an Emerging Leader. He was one of three featured principals in the book Best Practices of Literacy Leaders: Keys to School Improvement. Justin is a board member of The Flipped Learning Network, an advisor for the Carnegie Science Center, a member of the Remake Learning Network, and co-organizer of EdCampPGH. You can follow him on Twitter @JustinAglio.