GRADING BEST PRACTICES The primary goal of any standards based learning system is for students to meet the standards set by the District. This means that everything we do as teachers, including grading, must be targeted toward the standards and indicators students must learn. Ken O’Connor (2007), a nationally recognized expert on grading, identifies two essential questions that educators must ask themselves about grading:
1. How confident am I that the grades I assign students accurately reflect my school’s/district’s published content standards and desired learning outcomes?
2. How confident am I that the grades students get in my classroom/school/district are consistent, accurate, and meaningful and that they support learning?
O’Connor and other recognized experts (e.g., Reeves, Guskey, Marzano, etc.) recommend the following grading practices:
Grades must be consistent.
-Grades must be based on and organized using grade level indicators.
-Grades must be based on individual student achievement related to those indicators.
-Grades must be based on quality assessment of indicators.
Grades must be accurate.
-Grades must reflect student achievement only rather than behaviors (e.g., effort, participation, adherence to class rules, attendance).
-Grades must be based only on individual achievement, even if they are the result of “group work.”
-Extra credit should contribute to the grade only when it supplies evidence that “extra work” has resulted in higher achievement in the content that is being graded.
Grades must be meaningful.
-When using measures of central tendency to calculate final grades, the median or mode, rather than the mean (average), should be used.
-When determining grades, consider the “body of evidence” and use professional judgment. Don’t just calculate grades.
-When learning is developmental, emphasize the most recent achievement rather than summarizing evidence accumulated over time.
-Zeroes must not be used in place of missing or incomplete work or as punishment for student behavior.
Grades should support learning.
-Formative assessment and practice should be used to collect evidence that learning is occurring, not to determine grades. ! Students should have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
-Students should know from the beginning how grades will be determined. The learning targets should be clear and there should be no surprises on assessments.
-Students should have opportunities to be active participants in on-going assessment and grading practices (e.g., participating in learning conferences, assisting in rubric development, having input into setting timelines and deadlines, and making choices about how to demonstrate learning).