Thursday, September 5, 2013

Let's talk about grades...

Have you ever thought this… said this… heard somebody else say this?

"If his grades start to slip then we take away that Xbox."

"She's a good student, she keeps her grades up, I trust her."

"He got straight A's. I never would have guessed he was struggling so."

Ken O'Connor

Do you want to be graded on your performance in the beginning when all the information is new, or do you want to be graded in the end after practice?

Consider this story:

"I was meeting with our high school Advanced Placement teachers, who were expressing concerns about our open enrollment process and the high failure rate. One math teacher said that while a particular student was now getting 80's, she had made a 12 on the initial test, so there is no way she is going to make a passing grade for the first nine weeks."

Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself.  One of the most well-researched findings in the field of motivational psychology is that the more people are rewarded for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward.
Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks.  Students of all ages who have been led to concentrate on getting a good grade are likely to pick the easiest possible assignment if given a choice. 

If I can’t give a child a better reason for studying than a grade on a report card, I ought to lock my desk and go home and stay there.

The primary purpose of classroom assessment is to inform teaching and improve learning, not to sort and select students or to justify a grade.

Don’t punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply other consequences and reassess to determine actual level of achievement.

The price of freedom is proficiency… students are motivated not by threats of failure, but by the opportunity to earn greater freedom and discretion by completing work accurately and on time.

Don’t leave students out of the grading process. Involve students; they can - and should - play key roles in assessment and grading that promote achievement.

Thoughts and ideas here are from Alfie Kohn's 'Degrading to de-grading,' Ken O'Conner's 'How to grade for learning,' and Douglas Reeves' 'Leading to change / effective grading practices.'

What are your thoughts in regard to grading?