The Context of Grading
The role of schools has changed . . .. Our assessment practices historicallyhave been designed to promote accountability by separating thesuccessful from the unsuccessful learners and highlighting their differences.However, given the new mission of ensuring universal competence,assessments now must support the learning of all students sothat all can succeed at meeting standards. The result must be balancedassessment systems and a fundamental rethinking of the dynamics ofassessment in effective schools. (Stiggins. 2006, p. 3)
Before diving into the granular aspects of grading, this excerpt from Ken O'Connor's book, How to Grade for Learning K-12, gives an overarching view around the purposes of grading student work.
- Why Grade - Ken O'Connor from How to Grade for Learning, K-12
Grading Committee Report and Recommendations
- Presentation (May, 2015)
- Grading System Evaluation Rubric - To assist teachers and administrators with evaluating grading policies and practices we have developed a rubric for evaluating how well the grading system aligns with the guiding principles listed above.
- NC Educators Code of Ethics - Code of Ethics for North Carolina Educators in its Commitment to the Student states that an educator “evaluates students and assigns grades based upon the students’ demonstrated competencies and performance.” (Code of Ethics for North Carolina Educators, 1997, Section 1.C.)
We believe the purposes of grades are to:
- Communicate achievement status of students to parents and others
- Provide information that students can use for self-evaluation
- Evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs
- Use for instructional purposes – clarify learning goals, indicate students’ strengths & weaknesses, provide information about students’ personal/social development, and for some students, contribute to motivation
We also use students’ grades to determine promotion, graduation, and athletic eligibility, to award honors, and to report to other schools and prospective employers. High school grades may inform college acceptance, scholarships and vocational plans.
- Grades represent what students know, understand, and can do
- Grading procedures allow students to recover from initial failure, e.g. non-graded formative assessments, re-testing (the highest of the grades is counted)
- Grading procedures minimize the impact of behaviors, work habits, effort, late assignments, homework, attitude, etc.
- Grades make mathematical sense
- Grading is defensible and credible
- All middle and high schools will use the 10-point grading scale:
- 90-100 A
- 80-89 B
- 70-79 C
- 60-69 D
- < 60 F
- PLCs, grade levels or departments must agree on and use the same grading procedures
- GPA Calculation change (HS only)
As the culture has changed, and as schools and families have changed, homework has become problematic for more and more students, parents, and teachers. Best practice in homework dictates that it is used formatively with feedback from the teacher, but it is not given a score (Vatterott, 2009, pp. 1 & 2).
“Mathematically and ethically this [practice] is unacceptable” (Wormelli, 2006, p. 138). This quote is in reference to giving zeros on a 0-100-point scale. There are some serious problems with this practice: (O’Connor, 2009, p. 163)
- The lack of proportionality between 0 and 60 as the passing score compared to the 10-point ranges of the score points in the grading scale, i.e. 60-69 = D.
- The devastating effect of such an extreme score if grades are averaged.
- The inaccurate indication of a student’s proficiency as a result of zeros.
- The ineffectiveness of zeros as responsibility-creating mechanisms.
Standards-Based Grading is a system of reporting student proficiency on a number of specific learning goals (or standards). Rather than give students one grade on a test that assesses multiple skills, this system gives students a number of scores that represent their proficiency on each of the skills assessed. The idea is that at the end of the class a student has mastered the essential content necessary for the next level. The focus is on knowledge, not on points. (activegrade.com/get-started/)
- Challenging the Grading Paradigm - Ben Mainka
- Grading with a Standards-Based Mindset - Tom Schimmer
- Grades That Show What Students Know - Robert Marzanno and Tammy Heflebower
- 7 Reasons for Standards-Based Grading - Patricia L. Scriffiny
- Bound by Tradition - Ellen R. Delisio
- 5 Obstacles to Grading Reform - Thomas Guskey
- Grading Policies that Work Against Standards - Thomas Guskey
- Classroom Grading and Assessment that Work - Chapter 5 - Robert Marzano
- Helping Standards Make the Grade - Thomas Guskey