Manga Mimi

In: People

Submitted By liartie
Words 1390
Pages 6
GRADING AND STUDENT LEARNING

At a teacher inservice, a teacher described a problem that probably all of us have encountered. She had developed a curriculum based on the standards, using teaching strategies that promoted intrinsic motivation, creativity, willingness to take risks, a focus on mastery, etc. But all this disappeared when the concern for grades began to dominate shortly before the first grading period. How, she wondered, could she reconcile such a student-centered learning situation with the threat inherent in the traditional practice of grading? This column will describe some teachers’ solutions to the dilemma of maintaining positive classroom climate and productive teaching/learning/assessment strategies along with grading.

The Problem with Traditional Grading

Ironically, despite grading’s basic problems, teachers and students can become addicted to grades. The teacher mentioned above confided that she felt a real need for the “leverage” afforded by grades. And students quickly learn to ascertain what will count for grades and concentrate on this rather than on mastery itself. Many teachers routinely use grades as external motivators, often based on proxies for learning – points for attendance or worksheets, activities, etc. This is doubly problematic – they don’t deal directly with the Standards’ artistic processes of creating or responding, and the points (and the grade) become the focus of students’ efforts instead of those processes and understandings.

The traditional view is that tests, grades, and their attendant threats are necessary to “make students take learning seriously.” This begs an interesting question: If there were no grades to threaten students, would they stop learning or trying? If true, it would be only because the students were never focused on learning, only on the grade. This is a condemnation of such a system.…...

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