Peer Groups

    Re: Grading without using grades

    Yes. Even when I was in high-school, already knowing since 2nd grade that
    I wanted to teach, I always felt that grading our worksheets (which I've
    always believed was assigned to 1) get kids taking "notes" who weren't
    willing to take them otherwise; 2) reinforce -- drill, etc. ) didn't make
    sense. The poster you referred to said exactly what I've said aloud and
    have thought since I was a kid--why are we grading for accuracy on
    a "practice" assignment--that absolutely makes no sense to me. But then,
    there's alot of other stuff in the field of education that makes no sense
    to me either, but we're under orders to do them. I actually do not grade
    accuracy on my practice assignments. I give A, C, and no submission (NC)
    for completion. I do check whether student completed the assignment with
    clearly bogus answers/work. I send the assignment back to the student on
    those--they have a few days to re-do. I have just recently (thanks to an
    idea I got off this board) had kids do an assignment, we go over it in
    class, and I grade for the completion of corrections. I tell the kids
    we're here to LEARN, not get grades.

    I have a problem with America's grades not being consistently
    interpretable. As I mentioned before, the A I give in a class is not even
    remotely the same as an A that would be given at my daughter's school. At
    my school, daughter's A-grade would be off-the-charts. How we would ever
    solve this type of problem, however, is beyond me or my level of

    On 1/22/11, Neal wrote:
    > On 1/09/11, Lynde wrote:
    >> I'm probably going to regret putting my thoughts down here, but I
    >> worked at 4 different universities in my time, in a variety of
    >> academic departments. One of the things that was very clear from my
    >> inside-seat (and a close friend was the Director of Admissions at a
    >> major state university) was that higher academia demands a strong
    >> work ethic to be able to succeed. Universities were never meant to
    >> be a vocational/trade school--they're designed (or at least
    >> traditionally have been designed) to be a "thinker's milieu." They
    >> are supposed to guide and mentor and foster "thinking"
    >> and "philosophizing." There's supposed to be on-going dialogue
    >> between master (the professor) and the student. Every time a student
    >> is admitted to a university/college, it costs that institution money--
    >> money to push the paperwork, as it were. Thus, universities do not
    >> wish to admit a student and waste either the school's time and money,
    >> the parents', any financial aid institution's investment, or taking a
    >> student-slot away from someone else on someone who isn't going to
    >> make the grade. From the school's perspective, it's immaterial as to
    >> why a particular college-bound student fails--it doesn't matter
    >> whether it's because they are not that bright, or they were not
    >> taught and/or never learned mastery at prerequisite courses, or lack
    >> a vision for their own future, or lack basic study/learning skills,
    >> or lack a work-ethic/energy/commitment. A university student who
    >> fails to succeed is a drain on everyone's resources. Thus, at least
    >> at the high school level (and I would posit at the middle school
    >> level as well), it is imperative (in my opinion) that we give grades
    >> which SOMEHOW???? reflect not only a student's mastery of content,
    >> but also a prediction as to how well he/she is going to make the best
    >> of the university experience that they can. So, (and I'm not sure
    >> where to go with this in the practical day-to-day
    >> classroom), "coddling" students (if I may use that term) with
    >> providing their supplies, allowing late work, excessive use of re-
    >> do's, etc. is not necessarily a good thing. I'm thinking that it
    >> could lead to misleading grades. And, actually, I've had many
    >> different semi-careers over the years, and my experience has been
    >> that bosses (particularly if they're the business-owners themselves)
    >> do not do well with employees making mistakes, chronic or otherwise.
    >> Time is Money. Plus, there's the ego to take into account. How many
    >> of us have worked with the boss/supervisor from hell who likes to
    >> push folks around just because they can do it. Folks like these, who
    >> are basically not good leaders to begin with, like to dismiss people
    >> out-of-hand because it puts the fear of God into everyone else. The
    >> Kublai Khan Persona. I agree that we teachers have over-used the
    >> idea of real-word firing, blah/blah. But, oon the other hand, what
    >> else can we say? Any ideas? I've been telling my students just this
    >> past month that with so many people out of jobs for the foreseeable
    >> decade or so, businesses don't have to put up with the low-
    >> performers. So, a grade of an "A" coming from one teacher means what
    >> exactly? One teacher taught at higher-level thinking, another
    >> teacher didn't. One teacher taught the entire book and standards,
    >> another teacher wasn't able to complete the sequence (quite often due
    >> to factors beyond their control). Rubrics are subjective. Tests can
    >> be as superficial and simple as we choose them to be. I say all of
    >> this because at my school, we have a slew of students who get good
    >> grades, but good Lord. It is such a fractional situation compared to
    >> schools down the road it's pathetic. We have to go slow with our
    >> kids. We spend a lot of time re-teaching because so many students
    >> were absent, or "out to lunch" the first time around, or their IEPS
    >> call for a slower/lesser pace. Modifications call for asking half
    >> the questions, requiring half of the assignment, etc. Would it be
    >> such a crime to column out a grade for Behavior/Attitude/Work Ethic?
    >> That would assist universities in making educated guesses about who's
    >> likely to work hard enough to have a fair shot at successful
    >> university experience. I have no opinion on this--there's far too
    >> many perspectives from which to look at this from. Which is why I
    >> think there needs to be a public dialogue (or at least a national
    >> teacher-dialogue) to help us come to some conclusions about what is
    >> best.
    >> On 1/08/11, To Jo from Witheld wrote:
    >>> You didn't comment on my comment about content mastery and behavior
    >>> being related. If a student does not complete an assignment, thus
    >>> me not knowing what s/he knows, that student still fails to have
    >>> shown mastery and still earns a zero. Now, I have plenty of
    >>> assessments that I use in class to assess students' mastery, which
    >>> goes off on another tangent. My point is that mastery and behavior
    >>> are not always separate entities, and I don't think they ever can
    >>> be. In college, didn't your professors factor attendance and
    >>> participation with your grade? My friends who have taken online
    >>> classes still need to participate in online discussions and such
    >>> and are graded on this component of the class.
    >>> On 1/08/11, Jo wrote:
    >>>> Let's start again with that pencil. While you explain how not
    >>>> having a pencil results in not doing the assignment. So, you
    >>>> still don't know what the student knows. If the classroom is
    >>>> run by a procedure where a pencil means a zero for the day
    >>>> because you will not accept late work, you still do not know
    >>>> what the student knows, and it is behavior playing a role in
    >>>> the grade. It has nothing to do with the student knowing or
    >>>> not knowing the content or standards. Had the classroom
    >>>> procedures been different you could see if he mastered the
    >>>> content. Not having a pencil is behavioral. So, if a teacher
    >>>> did not allow the student to have a pencil or allowed then the
    >>>> grades do, in fact, include behavioral aspects instead of being
    >>>> based soley on mastery.
    >>>> I know my "real world" comments were not taken well, but I have
    >>>> read many posts on t-net and have known many teacher that use
    >>>> this comment too freely to gain compliance.
    >>>> I never said if an adult is habitually messing up he would keep
    >>>> a job, but many posts I have read and many teacher I know use
    >>>> this for everything. Even when it isn't habitual. First time
    >>>> a kid forgets a pencil. Zero for the day because in the real
    >>>> world this will get you fired. Forgot a homework, in the real
    >>>> world you have to get your work done or you will be fired.
    >>>> This starts in early grades with real world or threats about
    >>>> next year, or next level (middle school, high school), etc. I
    >>>> think students just have tuned this out and it isn't effective
    >>>> because it is over used and way beyond what the real world is
    >>>> like.
    >>>> But we are really off tangent. My point to Lynde was, there
    >>>> are various ways to grade. One includes behavior in with
    >>>> grading which makes the grade given not a reflection of what
    >>>> one knows about the state standards but a reflection of the
    >>>> procedures in the classroom in addition to the state
    >>>> standards. I change that you believe in grading based on
    >>>> behaviors. You can do so with the way our public education is
    >>>> set up. I just believe that we too often don't teach the
    >>>> students by these methods, we just make ourselves feel more in
    >>>> power or give ourselves more satisfaction that we will teach
    >>>> that kid a lesson. More often than not the lesson we teach
    >>>> isn't what they need to learn.
    > One other thing about real world versus school: new employes are given
    > training [ironically, not in teaching] and a training period in which
    > they are free to learn the job and make mistakes without it effecting
    > their employment. During this period, at least in my experience in
    > training new employees, the trainees are expected to "master" the needed
    > job skills by specific points in training period at the end of which,
    > they are fully expected to perform. I submit this: aren't grades k thru
    > 12, and to a lesser extent, college, a student's training period? The
    > time to make mistakes and learn from them and improve?