Not all about grades

I will recap my first three weeks here shortly (yes, already three weeks in!), but tonight I’m thinking about grades…

I’m trying to move my students past the “I got a what?” to understanding WHY they got what they did…since all of our assignments are building upon each other. It’s not always an easy task since ultimately our students are filling out their GPAs on college documents, job applications, and various scholarship forms.

I get it. Grades matter. Yet the bigger picture is one of life long learning and a more meaningful application of the knowledge we want our students to gain. I also understand that the assignments we create can help out this grade mentality because we can make them more meaningful. However, I’m still trying to figure out more ways to push students past the immediate grade and help them see the bigger picture. One example is sending back essays with markup (but without a grade) and having students use the rubric to give themselves a grade. After doing this a few times, I noticed many of my students started improving their writing because they no longer focused on the number at the end, but instead the comments in between because they wanted to be better the next time we worked on an essay.

Sometimes I feel successful, other times I feel like it’s all about the numbers. I can’t be the only one out there who feels this way (right?).

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3 thoughts on “Not all about grades

  1. Perhaps consider http://www.joebower.org/p/abolishing-grading.html and http://www.joebower.org/p/grading-moratorium.html?

    Respectfully, I suggest that grades matter much less than the information we get from assessments and the feedback, teaching, and opportunities to learn we undertake after reading that information. It’s not the letter or number that helps a student figure out how to improve or learn more – it’s help given by another person, sometimes a teacher, sometimes a peer, and sometimes an expert.

    Keep questioning –
    Chad

    • Thanks for the note, Chad! And I think you said it perfectly: “It’s not the letter or number that helps a student figure out how to improve or learn more – it’s help given by another person, sometimes a teacher, sometimes a peer, and sometimes an expert.” That is EXACTLY what I meant by the bigger picture.

  2. I’ve written about this before, too. More and more I believe we need to stop grading. I did stop grading my students’ writing until they were willing to turn it in–no matter how many drafts they wanted to do. This sorting and ranking affects children at the youngest ages and changes the way they think about learning. School has become a game for most of them. And whoever plays the best wins.

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