10 May 2008

Grading Round-Up

Grading is still a topic near and dear to my heart. I haven't written much about it recently---being swamped with end of year school travails and trying to get data collected for my doctoral study. However, I have been keeping an eye out for news in this area. If interested, you might enjoy having a look, too.

  • Some parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, want the grading scale changed so that their children have a leg up on college entrance. They're not interested in what the grade represents or changing anything happening in the classroom---they just want to manipulate the scale itself to make students appear more attractive to higher ed. Colleges won't catch on, right? The title of the article in the WaPo is "Schools to Study Grading Practices," but the bottom line is that this is not what is really going to happen.
  • Meanwhile, over at The Faculty Room, there has been a series of posts addressing the question of How do we get beyond the unthinking habits of grading? The responses range from looking to electronic gradebooks as culprits to a lack of consideration about what a grade should mean. Read the whole series, if you can.
  • Speaking of electronic gradebooks, some parents are using the web access feature of some of these to watch their child's progress like the stock market. Is having this level of "transparency" about grades really a good idea? Check out I Know What You Did Last Math Class for more details.


hschinske said...

Narrowing the range of acceptable grades too much *really* reduces the options of the schools and increases the stress on students. I went to a tough private school where almost no one had a four-point, and very few made it through without at least one C on their records. A B was referred to as "an honors grade," and was indeed an honorable grade. The colleges darned well did know about it, and most of us got into very good schools.

The system for bright kids who are capable of getting A's seems to be going further and further towards "Do everything perfectly so you will keep getting straight A's. Do the least thing wrong, and you're apt to flunk or fail to get into a good college." I don't want to send my kids to school on a tightrope.


The Science Goddess said...

It does seem hopelessly unfair. Grading in such a system has become more of a "gotcha" kind of event for student behaviors---rather than really reflecting learning.