Rethinking Grading: Ch. 5

Chapter 5: How to Reform Grading: Making Change Happen
Cathy Vatterott

Changes need not be grandiose to have a huge effect on student learning or to improve the accuracy and validity of student grades.

We must decide what we believe about the purpose of grading.

If they believe the purpose of grading is to accurately reflect achievement, then it becomes inconsistent to punish behaviors such as cheating, tardiness, or attendance with grades.

If an individual teacher believes the purpose of grading is to reflect academic achievement only, they could begin by removing nonacademic behaviors from the grade, by no longer grading practice work, and by giving more ungraded formative feedback.

When we agree on purpose, methods follow purpose.

Lesson learned:
One. Start small.
Two. Let it grow.
"Teachers need time to grieve the loss of what they thought was right."
Three. Include all stakeholders.
Four. Create a belief statement or guiding principles.
five. Have a comprehensive communication plan.
Six. Make students and teachers your allies.

When implementation is top-down with no teacher by-in, there's often a limited understanding of the changes and no commitment to the mission. Teachers notoriously find ways around policies they had nothing to do with creating.


  1. I have found that teaching high school math - the students need to 'chew' and digest a little every day - this is done via homework and projects - the homework is not weighted very heavily in their grade, however, no homework, no digestion, means 'upchuck' time when test day or activities requiring content knowledge occur

    1. I would agree. I just choose to do my digesting in class instead of at home.