What’s in a Grade?

We have started conversations in the middle school about the bigger picture (and simultaneously the little details) of grading and assessing student work, asking questions like:

– How might we innovate our progress monitoring system beyond numerical grades, to truly reflect student growth, curiosity, and mastery of the learning outcomes?

– What qualifies as a ‘major assessment’ versus a minor one?

– Could we and should we implement a system that allows for retesting? Put another way, how might teachers offer students multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning?

– What is the purpose of homework, and what happens if a student hands it in late or not at all?

– To how many decimal places should our online gradebook round numerical grades?

– What categories/weights best comprise a 21st century approach to measuring student learning? There’s the traditional model with tests, projects, and homework counting for 30%, 25%, and 20%, etc. What about measuring empathy and creativity, or making the “buckets” formative and summarize assessments? What buckets are most meaningful?

This afternoon a few colleagues and I participated in ASCD’s webinar “Grading Smarter Not Harder” led by Myron Dueck. It was refreshing to be among fellow learners listening to ideas on grading, assessment, late work, and the ultimate killing power of The Zero.

I agree with Dueck on many of his points, and I’m inspired to read his book by the same title as the webinar. While he didn’t address too many of the questions above, he did share several practical ideas and  I’ll address his thoughts and my thoughts on his thoughts in a follow up blog post later this week.


2 thoughts on “What’s in a Grade?

Add yours

  1. I loved reading all of the tweets! My two big passions right now are cognition and assessment/grading. I’m pllanning to bring assessment/grading into the MS/US Math R&D meeting in February. Would love to chat more some time if you are interested!

  2. Nice post! Glad the webinar was rewarding. When I was a MS principal, we had a burial ceremony for the Zero after studying this very question for awhile — “What’s in a grade?”

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