Rethinking Grading: Ch. 1

Chapter 1: The Culture of Grading
Cathy Vatterott

But teachers intervene-they teach with the goal of having all students learn. "If the distribution of student learning after teaching resembles a normal bell-shaped curve, that, too, shows the degree to which our intervention failed. It made no difference."

Belief #1: Good Teachers Give Bad Grades
As teachers, we bought into the idea that a bell curve indicated rigor and misinterpreted it to be a rule to follow. We came to believe that of success were scarce and great spell into a bell curve then we were tough teachers.

Grade inflation is the arrive from the belief that rigor equals a scarcity of high grades and that the purpose of grading is to sort and rank.

Rigor and difficulty was often equated to the amount of work done by students rather than the complexity and challenge of the work.

Such practices reinforce the belief that some students could not learn and perpetuated a system that not only allowed four but actually expected failure. In many ways, sorting and ranking practices institutionalized failure and conveniently of dissolved teachers of the responsibility for student failure.

Belief #2: Not Everyone Deserves an A

Many people feel strongly that grades reflect more than learning. We review grades as a package deal; to succeed, seras must have it all-academic achievement and moral virtues.

Belief #3: Grades Motivate Learners

The first misconception is that learning is only a means to an end-to escape punishment or get a reward, the learning has no intrinsic value, and that students would not be interested in learning for its own sake.

The second misconception is that a single entity called motivation exists, the students either have it or don't have it, and it can be manipulated by external forces.

The third misconception is that the most effective method is the use of rewards and or punishment and that grades are in effect the reward and or punishment for all students.

Our believes have led to an abuse of grades.

Students have come to believe that effort however week, not learning, earns them the A.

And our relentless pursuit of the almighty A and the perfect GPA, something got lost-learning.

Reality Check #1: NCLB

This was a foreign concept to teachers-we had never been expected to ensure that all students were proficient. We didn't know how to do that. We were not even sure that it was possible.

NCL be exposed a dirty little secret-graves don't equate with performance on standardized test.

Accountability for learning demands grades that are reflective of learning.

Reality Check #2: Grades Are Misleading About Succeeding

A puzzling example is that good grades in high school and students cheaper car insurance. Why-because good students are safer drivers or because good grades mean you are an accomplished rule-follower who will follow the rules of the road?

We thought that we were rewarding the right thing-completion of tasks, compliance, promptness. But in that process if we devalued mastery of deep conceptual learning, we have hampered students his future success. Maybe the grading practices that we thought were preparing students for the future really weren't.

Reality Check #3: The Common Core State Standards Changed Everything

Although standards and standardized test has supposedly driven instruction for years, we now see that we have been focusing too much on low-level rote learning.

Too often, we have neither allowed nor expected students to think. We have filled her head with facts and formulas and reward them for restarting it. We have done the analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating instead of expecting our students to do it. We have done too much of the work of learning, perhaps because we didn't trust him to want to do the work, or perhaps because we weren't sure they were able to do the work.

To successfully navigate the standards, student grades will need to reflect mastery of skills, not memory of content.

Today we must prepare them for a world in which they must know how to take initiative, self-advocate, solve problems, be creative, and accomplish tasks without minute-to-minute supervision.

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