Average vs trends: “Who should pack your parachute?”

I’m not sure which educator first created the “Who should pack your parachute?” question (maybe Ken O’conner), but it’s commonly used when addressing how we assess students. The question focuses on the traditional grading system were all scores count the same, and a students’ final grade is based on the average of all the scores. The alternative presented is to look at trends in a student’s scores…looking for growth and allowing for early mistakes/low scores to not have as great an impact.

By presenting this issue in terms of ‘who do you want to pack your parachute?’ we get the reader/listener thinking that the decision may impact their health and well being.

The graphs presented all have the same average, so they would all get the same grade under a traditional grading system. But looking at the trends of the three students, it becomes clear that one is improving, one is inconsistent, and one is getting worse results.

I created a quick PowerPoint slideshow that uses the images in the slides above (and a few others). Some slides ask the viewer to look carefully and reach conclusions about that slide. You can download a copy of the slideshow here.