How do we ensure that grades are a true representation of what students know and can do? Drawing on the research of Dr. Thomas Guskey, Lee Ann Jung, and Myron Dueck, a team of middle and high school teachers along with district administrators are examining this important question. While our investigation is in its early phases, nearly 15% of our secondary teachers are involved in a pilot project incorporating recommended best practices for grading.
This work is challenging us to rethink some common grading practices that may be contributing to an inaccurate picture of students’ proficiency. For example, a practice of teachers nationwide is to offer extra credit for non-academic tasks, such as bringing in canned food for a school food drive. If the purpose of a grade is to represent what students know and can do, does extra credit for behavioral compliance align with that purpose? We are also looking into research that suggests offering students multiple opportunities to show mastery may provide a better gauge of their academic progress than giving students only one opportunity.
We encourage parents to learn along with us about these and other questions we are exploring. We are excited about the journey we are undertaking in our district to explore best practices around grading. Our goal is to give our students, parents, and teachers the clearest, most informative picture of where a student is in his or her learning.