At the beginning of this chapter, there’s a little excerpt of a teacher’s confession about her grading system. She begins with how no one ever challenged the final grades that she gave to her students. Her grade book was closed only accessible to herself with no accountability. She admits that her grades were somewhat subjective, and she included effort and behavior as well as test performance. I think this is something to think about. I’ve been teaching for thirteen years and ‘grading system,’ is not often discussed as part of teacher orientation. More often than not…actually in most of the schools I’ve worked at (that’s 7 schools!) I am left to create a grading system for myself. And like the teacher in the book, no one’s really challenged my grades.
It is the responsibility of the teacher to communicate the most accurate reflection of student achievement. And one crucial way that this is to be done is to ensure the learning target is clear and that assessment and reporting is done with the big picture in mind. There are three guidelines the book suggests:
1. That grades should be used to communicate student achievement and not be used as a motivational tool. I think whether we want to or not, it becomes a motivational tool as there are students who are set on achieving a high grade point average. But, for the teachers, it should never be a threatening point.
2. Grades should reflect the students mastery. All other factors of school should be separately reported. This includes aspects like student behavior or their effort.
3. Grades should only reflect the current level of achievement.
Some other matters mentioned in the chapter that I found useful are the modified report for special needs students and involving students in the process. With modified report grades, the grades should align with the student’s IEP. Also, there should be an explanation along with the report card on what the modifications are and how the student was graded. The purpose of involving students in the report card is to be transparent with their achievements and to give them the opportunity to make improvements in the areas they are weak.