Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based Learning

Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based Learning

Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based Learning

Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based Learning

Synopsis

Grading systems often reward on-time task completion and penalize disorganization and bad behavior. Despite our best intentions, grades seem to reflect student compliance more than student learning and engagement. In the process, we inadvertently subvert the learning process.After careful research and years of experiences with grading as a teacher and a parent, Cathy Vatterott examines and debunks traditional practices and policies of grading in K-12 schools. She offers a new paradigm for standards-based grading that focuses on student mastery of content and gives concrete examples from elementary, middle, and high schools. Rethinking Grading will show all educators how standards-based grading can authentically reflect student progress and learning--and significantly improve both teaching and learning.Cathy Vatterott is an education professor and researcher at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a former middle school teacher and principal, and a parent of a college graduate. She has learned from her workshops that "grading continues to be the most contentious part... conjuring up the most intense emotions and heated disagreements." Vatterott is also the author of the book Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs.

Excerpt

Grading. It’s the hardest decision I must make in teaching. Every semester I agonize about what is right. Is the grade truly indicative of the student’s performance? Do I have the weighting right? Have I given students enough opportunities to improve? All this happens within the confines of the amount of time and energy I have available to determine grades.

I continue to evolve in my practice. Last semester I created structured formative activities and rubrics. I found that those strategies helped more students “hit the mark” the first time. I had fewer rewrites with fewer deficiencies.

Writing this book has been an awakening. Each semester I am more thoughtful, more analytical, and more reflective about my own grading practices. At the same time, I am troubled by the mindset that my college freshmen and sophomores bring to my courses. (The juniors and seniors are a bit better.) For many, their K–12 experience has left them woefully unprepared to handle college-level work. They often don’t fully comprehend how to analyze and synthesize. They seem to be stuck in the mode of “just tell me what you want.” Many of them are terrible writers, unable to express their thoughts clearly and intelligently. I see firsthand the damage we have done, and how we have handicapped them . . .

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