Thursday, May 5, 2011

Grading. Does It Really Make Sense?

I keep wondering why we are spending so much time on grades.

We are having a discussion at my building right now about the effect of a zero on a student's grade.  Mathematically and psychologically, taking a zero on an average-sized assignment means you are done for the term.  You will be lucky to claw your way back to a C.  Hard to motivate yourself if you are the student in that situation.  Hard to help a student motivate himself in that situation.

I take late work. The only real deadlines I have involve the end of the term or a performance time.  Get the work turned in so I have it for the report card.  If an assignment is worth doing, as in a real skill the student needs to know, it is worth taking late.

I talk to kids constantly about getting work turned in and for most of them it works.  Of course, Dr. Phil would say there are some people that don't want to be helped.  Students can blow the work off and get a zero.  But that won't be because I haven't tried.

Of course a couple of days with no students at the end of each term to finish evaluating work would be helpful, if the grade report is really that important.  (If management is reading this: hint, hint.)

Now, what does that grade really mean?  A, B, C, D, F.  Does it mean the student has learned a lot by sitting in your room?  Or does it mean they knew a lot when they came in the door?  If I walked into a tutoring operation and said my kid has an F in math, would that get the reteaching started right away, or would I run up some billable time while they ran a diagnostic test to find what skills he has?  I think a skills list or portfolio would be a better deal.  Please tell me what he needs to do next to get to the next level.

Too much time is spent on grades and not enough on learning.  Let's do some sensible reporting.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great thoughts Roger! I hated grades when I was a student in High School... thought worse of them when I was failing college courses, where in reality, I was learning a lot, and dreaded grading students when I was teaching as the formula I used to give a grade didn't really indicate the quality of a student. I find students who work hard to get their "A" are really shallow, and have little joy in their lives.