Monday, December 6, 2010

How do you grade your students?

With our lengthy subjective report cards coming up, this recent article entitled "No More A's for Good Behavior", caught my eye. Even though the article focuses on middle and high school, I thought it contained many interesting points that I could relate to my grade level. One statement that I found interesting was a pivotal debate: Should students be rewarded for being friendly, prepared, compliant, good school citizen, well organized, etc. Or should good grades represent exclusively a student's mastery of the material? Do you grade your kids for compliance or for mastering the course material? The article mentions that A and B students were not the ones who were gaining the most knowledge but the ones who had learned to do school the best. What do you think?
Something else that I found interesting was that one middle school is giving "knowledge grades" based on calculating the average of test scores. And "life skills grades" based on work habits, attitude, effort and citizenship.
These are just a few of the interesting topics from this article. I encourage you to skim the article too. It may open your eyes and help you decide what is really most important when you are filling out those lengthy subjective report cards next week. Again, how do you grade your students?

Diane Conahan
4th Grade Math Teacher


  1. Grading students is intended to meet a variety of educational and social purposes. For some students grades motivate and control behavior. Students that possess important intelligences - musical, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal or bodily kinesthetics do tend to get a lower grade. Our schools value and reward the logical - mathematical and linguistic intelligences. Great topic Diane. I am curious to hear other comments.
    Honey Walia

  2. I definitely think that our grading system on district report cards is very narrow minded. That's where we, as the classroom teachers, need to step in and expand the assessment spectrum. Assessments and criteria such as rubrics, performance based assessment, cooperative group work, formal/informal, etc. are examples I've used in second grade.
    I can totally feel for the kids who struggle with "knowledge grades" but pass with flying colors on "life skills grades." I was that student. I had to study twice as hard just to end up with a "B." However, my attitude, work ethic, motivation, and determination would make me a straight "A" student. Even in college, I was the girl who had a variety of colored highlighters, pens, pencils, and backups for each. In class, I took notes wiht a fury. Yet, somehow always ended up lending my things to the kid who showed up to class only for the mid-term and final exam and SOMEHOW they always got a better grade than me.
    As we all know, there is not one way to teach and learn, so how is it fair to limit ourselves with the way we assess? Moreover, what is our objective with assessing? Number grades, knowledge, or a well balanced learner?

  3. Good point Karen! I, also, was the student who had to work real hard and study real hard in school. And I, also, had that determination, motivation and work ethic to succeed. I was always prepared with assignments, that would keep me up working all night. I continue to be that person today. It has, however, made me more sensitive to the child who struggles in class to complete assignments and make the grade. Do I take motivation, determination and attitude into consideration when grading that child? Yes, I do! I haven't done so bad during my lifetime up to now!! With those life skills, how can anyone not succeed? Our grading system definitely needs to take that into consideration!

  4. This topic goes along with Sam’s blog concerning the meaning of well-educated. Do we only acknowledge students for demonstrating book smarts? Do we also acknowledge students for demonstrating other types of smarts?

    I think it is important to acknowledge and guide students in both areas. A person may be a mathematical whiz, have passed the NJASK with flying colors, but if he or she possesses no coping skills to hold down a job, where does that leave him or her? Vice-versa, a student may have the social coping skills to get along with colleagues, but if he or she possesses no knowledge abilities to do the job, where does that leave him or her?

    With the push for merit pay, what will teachers be rewarded for? Will teachers be rewarded for nurturing socially responsible students? Will teachers be rewarded for teaching students to cope in the world outside of school? Will teachers be rewarded for students who have the book smarts to pass a test?