Crossing Over: Teaching Meaning-Centered Secondary English Language Arts

By Harold M. Foster | Go to book overview
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chapter TEN
Grading and Assessing

Introduction

If Carrie has any philosophy of grading it is “the more grades the better.” That is, the more ways her students can earn a grade, the better off everyone is. Carrie does this because her students desire grades, a kind of surrogate paycheck for the work they do. Carrie also does this because the more ways she has of assessing their performance, the closer she is to some kind of honest and accurate final evaluation for report cards. On the other hand, the more grades she gives, the more she has to read and evaluate student work. And the more she reads and evaluates, the less willing her students are to experiment, take risks, and write, speak, and perform without inhibition. Carrie gets a headache thinking about all these variables. But she resolves these contradictions by giving a great many simple, credit/neo-credit grades.


The School, the Students

I have two impressions of Main Street High School: first, there is no neighborhood; second, there are no windows. The school is situated on the edge of downtown in a mid-sized city with no discernable places where people live. Where the kids come from is a bit of a puzzle. Actually, most of these kids live in the scattered housing, some old, some new apartments federally funded, surrounding the downtown. These are city kids.

The school is a red brick structure apparently without windows until you look at the third floor. For some reason, third floor classrooms have large windows that look upon a cityscape.

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