Grading students at the Academy of Code has always been something we've tried hard to get right, and generally it's been something we've struggled with. The nature of coding is that the material will immediately click with some students, while others will need more time to engage with it before they are ready to move on to the next concept. Over the course a single term this can mean vast gulfs emerging even within a class of the same age group, never mind one with a 3 or 4 year age spread (as many of our classes have).
In an effort to alleviate the issues this causes (boredom on one side, and frustration on the other) we generally allow a certain amount of leeway for students to progress at their own pace. This works well, and allows many students to thrive, but something we've heard from many parents is that they would like some sort progression for students, so that they always have something to work towards.
That's why we've introduced our new grading system, as of the start of our summer camps this year. Pictured above are two returning students, who received beginners (white), junior grade I (red) and junior grade II (yellow) bands at the end of their week with us this summer.
This also coincides with our adoption of class booklets (previously we distributed lessons one at a time, as the previous lesson was completed - this was both inconvenient for students, who were limited in the work they could do at home, and also a nuisance for us, as it meant keeping a huge stack of paper on hand, and transporting it to each class!). Class booklets have a progression chart on the back, to be dated and signed by teachers as each lesson is completed and checked.
For later grades there will also be more onerous grading requirements - the unassisted completion of some significant piece of coding, demonstrating understanding/mastery of specific areas of coding.
We're excited about this, as it will give students a clear, multi-year path to developing their coding expertise with the Academy of Code. Students seem excited too (although perhaps as much for the new fashion accessories and bragging rights as anything else!)
We will have more information about these grades in the coming weeks and months, especially the later grades which will require much more commitment to reach than the first few, and which may also include developing websites, working on hardware (arduino/picaxe/raspberry pi/lego mindstorms), and much more besides. Watch this space!