The ABC's of Grading
by Leanna James
== Introduction ==
Having attended school for all my life, I have not come across one person who has not either been intimidated or anxious about grades. Grades almost define who you are according to college boards and the business world. Grades are somewhat similar to a caste system in that it predetermines who you will be professionally, sometimes even socially. Whichever way you may look at it, grades are essential in progressing to the next level. Thus the importance of grades and the purpose in which they exist must be understood by teachers and students.
Purpose of Grades
Grades in the most basic context can simply be seen as a measure of what one knows. More specifically, grades are a âmark for the quality of work and/or level in scale of progression (2007).â The purposes of grades are manifold. According to a research study found by Robert Manzano grades are âprimarily used for (1) administrative purposes, (2) to give students feedback about their progress and achievement, (3) to provide guidance to students about future course work, (4) to provide guidance to teachers for instructional planning, and (5) to motivate students (2000).â
1) Administrative Purpose
Grades primarily used for administrative purposes reiterate the point that oneâs educational career can predetermine the professional career in oneâs future due to the fact that grades serve the purpose of the following as outlined in Manzanoâs research:
â¢âStudent matriculation and retention
â¢Placement when students transfer from one school to another
â¢Student entrance into collegeâ (2000)
A survey conducted by The College Board in 1998 reported 81% of schools use grades for Administrative Purposes. (2000)
Pros : Encourages competition amongst students academcially
Cons : Neglects students strengths and talents
From the perception of students, it is understood that grades are primarily used for feedback concerning the progress and achievement of themselves. Students are expected to learn material, and grades are meant to be evidence of the progress or achievability of studentsâ understanding of material - in this particular translation of grading. According to Susan Brookhart in her article âFeedback that Fitsâ, âeffective feedback focuses on describing the studentâs work commenting on the process the student used to do the work, and makes specific suggestions for what to do nextâ
It is evident through this type of translation of grades that grades come in forms other than numerically or alphabetically.
Manzanoâs research indicated from a study by Austin and McCann, âthat 25 percent of school board documents, 45 percent of district documents, and 65 percent of teacher documents mentioned reporting student achievement as a basic purpose of grades (2000).â
Pros: Describes student's work in detail (both for good and bad); "describes where student is in relation to the learning goal (Brookhart2007&2008)";
Cons: The feedback itself maybe ineffective thus costing the student to misinterpret feedback as criticism or judging;
âWhen used for guidance purposes, grades help counselors provide direction for students. Specifically, counselors use grades to recommend to individual student courses they should or should not take and schools and occupations they might consider (2000)â Again, this is a reflection of how grades can predetermine the professional path a student can or cannot take.
Manzaonâs research again indicated from Austin and McCann âthat 82 percent of school board documents, 40 percent of district documents, and 38 percent of teacher documents identified guidance as an important purpose of grades (2000).â
Pros: Much more easier and more organized to route student's to careers and/or schools that may compliment and/or complicate student's grades
Cons: May misinform or mislead student's in a schhol/profession that may not be where student feels best comfortable or equipped ; Possible bias
4) Instructional Strategies
As teachers we are obviously going to have to assess our students; however, assessment isnât just for the purpose of maintaining the progress of students but to also benefit teachers in their teaching strategies and methods. âThroughout the day, students produce work (journals, responses to questions, graphic organizers, and verbal responses) that is an indicator of their understanding. These formative assessments provide a much more accurate measure of how students are progressingâ¦ A formative coach guides teachers in using student work to determine the course of instruction, curriculum, and their own professional development (Niddus and Sadder 2009).â
This example excellently exemplifies the appropriate interaction between teachers and guided help.
â44 percent of school board documents, 20 percent of district documents, and 10 percent of teacher documents emphasized this purpose researched by Manzon. (2000)
The theory that good grades promote consistent success and bad grades encourage students to do better until success is reached is frowned upon yet is evident in some US schools.
According to Manzon, â7 percent of school board documents, 15 percent of district-level documents, and 10 percent of teacher documents emphasized motivation as a purpose for grades (2000).â
Cons: Theory has not been proven accurate
== Why even give grades? ==
As you can see above there are many purposes of grading. All of these aspects of grading are essential to teachers. To reiterate the two main reasons why grading or assessments are done are because of accountability and improvement of teaching and learning.
On the other end of the spectrum, some believe grading isn't a true measure of what one has learned. Grades are given once tests are administered, then afterwords out the window the information goes!
âGrading and learning just donât go togetherâ â SCampus 1972-73
== If So... What kind?Assesments again are used for accountability and improve teaching and learning, yet what matters is not the style or format of the assessment, but how the results are used! (Kidd 2009) ==
1.Summative: after learning has taken place
2. Formative : while learning is still going on
Styles / Formats of Tests
1. Norm referenced tests - Student scores are determined by comparing a performance to an established norm ( a group of students with established characteristics who have taken the test)
2. Criterion referenced tests - Scores are based on established criteria. Determines how well a student has met a standard.
â¢District Quarterly Tests
Raw - the actual number of test items answered correctly
Scales - Raw score is converterd to scale score which typically range from 200 to 800
Percentages - Indicates the number correct as a ration to the total number of questions
Percentiles - Indicates the percentage of students outscored
â¢Mean - all scores added together divide by number of scores
â¢Median - Middle score ranging frm smallest to largest
â¢Mode - most often occurring score
Selected response - M/C , T/F, matching, fill in the blank
Extended responses - essay or show your work math problem
Performance assessment - ability to perform taks/skills
Personal communication - journals, interviews, oral exam , observations
== Quiz1. According to the research study done by Robert Manzano grades are primarily used for 5 purposes. Which of the following is not described to be one of the purposes of grades? ==
A. Administrative Purposes
C. Instructional Strategies
D. Comparative / Competitive Purposes
2. What are the two main reasons why assessments are given?
A. College entrance / Accountability
B. Accountability / Improve teaching and learning
C. Accountability / Improve learning
D. Improve teaching/ Accountability
3. Mrs. James, a science teacher, wants to give her students a fair advantage in doing well on their exam. Her lectures have been primarily focused on hands on activities and lab work. Which form of assessment method would be BEST for Mrs. James to utilize for her students?
A. Selected Response
B. Extended Response
C. Performance Assessment
D. Personal Communication
4. Mrs. Williams has not only observed her student's uninterested attitude toward the new science cirriculum but their inability to retain the information. She decides to try a new method of teaching the cirriculum before giving them a formal assessment. Which of the following has Mrs. Williams demonstrated?
A. Formative Assessment
B. Summative Assessment
C. Observational Assessment
== ReferencesDecember 2007/Jan 2008 Volume 65 Number 4 Informative Assessment pp 54–59 âfeedback that Fitsâ Susan Brookhart ==
Transforming Classroom Gradingby Robert J. Marzano http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100053/chapters/What_Are_Grades_For%C2%A2.aspx
Educational leadership. Dec 2007/jan 2008 volume 65 number 4 informative assessment pgs 8-13 âlearning to love assessmentâ carol an Tomlinson
Old Dominion University Course ECI 301 Powerpoint Lecture Spring (2009) L5, L6, L8 Professor Kidd.
Answers : 1.d 2. b 3. c 4. a