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15 Fixes for Grading

November 20, 2009

15 Fixes for Grading is a book by Ken O’Conner that I have been working through with a book study group as part of my professional development this year.  If you click the link above you will see what it is all about but the big concept here is not mixing a student’s behavior and their grade.

What a student does or does not do is part of their behavior and should be disciplined as such. This should be less than 10% of their grade.

What a a student knows and does not know is part of their grade.

It has made me think about what do the grades I give out mean?  If a student fails and gets a 50% in my class is that because he/she knows only 50% of the information that was taught in class?  Or does that mean that they knew 80% of the information but never turned their homework in on time and never did their bell work.

This year a lot more of the class assignments are for practice.  Students need to practice the skills and using the knowledge before they are assessed on whether they know it.  Would it be fair for me to give their practice while they are still learning the skill a point value?  Maybe, but there will be a lot more points on the assessment when I am evaluating what they have learned and what they have not.

Classroom situation:  you pass out an activity page where students will be practicing calculating density.  The passive aggressive student in my class asks me, “Is this for points?”  as he looks at me and smiles because he knows that some things are “for practice only.”  My response to this has been “everything effects your grade” and nothing more.  For me it has been about my attitude towards the practice.  If I see it as valuable and I present it that way (which it is otherwise we wouldn’t do it) and I treat it that way then they will see it that way. Do football players go to practice and ask the coach “Hey coach is practice today going to effect our team record?”  Of course not!!!  If the athletes all decided to not practice your darn right that is going to effect their record.  On the other hand if they decide to practice and give every day everything they’ve got then it will effect their record in a different way.  I do not give points for eating, sleeping, or bringing your pencil but I kid you not all of those things can effect your grade in a positive or negative way.  There are some things you just do because if you don’t you are not going to succeed.  No not everything you do in class is for points.  In a job you do not always get paid for going above and beyond, you do not get paid for doing your job right.  But, if you don’t go above and beyond you will never get a better job, and if you don’t do your job right you won’t have one for long. Running a class this way is more real life than giving a student points for everything they do.  Besides all of that it lets the teacher get back to what’s really important.  TEACHING





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