To Grade or Not to Grade….That Is The Question

Tonight’s #flipclass #flashblog focuses on grading.  I’m sure that I will definitely be in the minority when I say that grades are necessary.  Do I think that grades are necessary all the time? No.  And maybe not even with all students.  But my students need grades.

I work in a high poverty school.  When you ask the boys what they want to be when they grow up, they all say some type of professional athlete.  If you ask them to come up with a second choice…they can’t.  They are each going to be the one who MAKES IT!  They don’t do my homework or study or read because they have practice. In the fall it’s football practice…in the winter – it’s basketball practice… the spring it’s baseball practice.  In this agricultural town where the unemployment rate is 5.8% and the job growth is -0.03% my students need to find a way out.  They need the opportunities to see other options for them.  They need to see that their education is a priority.  One that is more important than any sport they can play. But I digress….

Do I make grades the end all be all? No.  In class, we talk about determining our individual strengths and weaknesses.  I stress to them that the goal is mastery.  If they don’t do well on an assignment they can always redo it.  I work with them in small groups and on an individual basis to see what they know and what they’re stuck on.  I stress to them that it’s not who learns the material the fastest – the important thing is that the skill is learned.

Do I think that the 100 point grading scale is ridiculous?  I do.  How can there be 30 points to show that a student is passing and 69 points to determine failure.

Maybe they don’t need grades, but they need to be held accountable.  If a student feels that the assignment will not be graded – they half tail do it.  So, although I don’t put every grade in the gradebook, they don’t know it.  So, I guess my issue is not necessarily with grading but with accountability.  When I was growing up, my parents held me accountable for learning.  They made sure that I did those things that would make me successful.  That’s not always the case.

So I’m sure you’re saying “MAKE UP YOUR MIND!”  So here are my final thoughts.  Grades are a necessary evil as a part of holding students accountable.  Are my students more than a grade?  Heck yes!  Do we focus only on grades in my classroom?  Heck no!  And so continues this tight rope that I walk….

Until the next time,


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One Comment
  1. Mention grading and you will have a heated debate. I do not grade everything but my students do not know that. Everything gets marked, I show them what they did wrong and how to fix it so they can do it right the next time. But like you, I do not put them all in the grade book. That would be insane. Many assignments are simply for formative assessment-I need to see how they are doing so I know what to help them with next. I try to follow the advice of grading guru Rick Wormeli. If you haven’t seen him in person, I recommend him. If you haven’t read any of his books, you need to. Fair Isn’t Always Equal is one I highly recommend.

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