More Thoughts on Grading

To my Educator Friends!

One thing that I struggled with during my years of teaching and administrating was how to fairly and accurately evaluate students and apply an appropriate grading system. After a few years as Principal I decided to make changes in the way we reported to parents about the academic progress of their child.

The first thing that I did was form a committee (no surprise here). The committee, of which I was a member, evaluated what we were currently doing. We came to a number of conclusions. Two of the most obvious: grading was a contest for students, created by the parents and the letter grade did not adequately show whether a child was making progress or regressing (example– in our system a grade of C had a range of 70%-85%).

After much discussion, sometimes heated, the committee agreed to make changes. As a school we would work to change the culture that grades were not to be considered a contest between students. To accomplish this, during open house (held at the very beginning of the school year)  I explained to the parents how student progress or lack of it would be reported. Teachers  also explained the changes during their 20 minute classroom meetings. On the report card there was a statement “The percentages reported indicate the level at which your child is performing in a subject area. It is not to be used to compare students in a class or grade level”.

In the statement, did you notice there was a reference to percentages? We also completely eliminated letter grades and replaced them with percentages. No where on the report card was there a reference to a letter grade. Parents could see if their child had a 72% or 83% (from the example above these two percentages would have placed a child in the C range).

The initial reaction from some parents was skepticism. However, over time the vast majority of parents grew to like the new system of reporting.

Thanks for reading and remember “Educators are #1”.

Have a story or idea please submit it for publication.

Happy Trails–Herb

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