Guskey Although the debate over grading and reporting practices continues, today we know which practices benefit students and encourage learning.
Pollio SCHOOL Few issues have created more controversy among educators than those associated with grading and reporting student learning. Despite the many debates and multitudes of studies, however, prescriptions for best practice remain elusive. Although teachers generally try to develop grading policies that are honest and fair, strong evidence shows that their practices vary widely, even among those who teach at the same grade level within the same school.
In essence, grading is an exercise in professional judgment on the part of teachers. It involves the collection and evaluation of evidence on students' achievement or performance over a specified period of time, such as nine weeks, an academic semester, or entire school year.
Through this process, various types of descriptive information and measures of students' performance are converted into grades or marks that summarize students' accomplishments. Although some educators distinguish between grades and marks, most consider these terms synonymous. Both imply a set of symbols, words, or numbers that are used to designate different levels of achievement or performance.
Reporting is the process by which these judgments are communicated to parents, students, or others. A Brief History Grading and reporting are relatively recent phenomena in education.
In fact, prior tograding and reporting were virtually unknown in schools in the United States. Throughout much of the nineteenth century most schools grouped students of all ages and backgrounds together with one teacher in one-room schoolhouses, and few students went beyond elementary studies.
The teacher reported students' learning progress orally to parents, usually during visits to students' homes. As the number of students increased in the late s, schools began to group students in grade levels according to their age, and new ideas about curriculum and teaching methods were tried.
One of these new ideas was the use of formal progress evaluations of students' work, in which teachers wrote down the skills each student had mastered and those on which additional work was needed. This was done primarily for the students' benefit, since they were not permitted to move on to the next level until they demonstrated their mastery of the current one.
It was also the earliest example of a narrative report card. With the passage of compulsory attendance laws at the elementary level during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the number of students entering high schools increased rapidly.
Between and the number of public high schools in the United States increased from to 10, As a result, subject area instruction in high schools became increasingly specific and student populations became more diverse.
While elementary teachers continued to use written descriptions and narrative reports to document student learning, high school teachers began using percentages and other similar markings to certify students' accomplishments in different subject areas.
This was the beginning of the grading and reporting systems that exist today. The shift to percentage grading was gradual, and few American educators questioned it. The practice seemed a natural by-product of the increased demands on high school teachers, who now faced classrooms with growing numbers of students.
But in a study by two Wisconsin researchers seriously challenged the reliability of percentage grades as accurate indicators of students' achievement. In their study, Daniel Starch and Edward Charles Elliott showed that high school English teachers in different schools assigned widely varied percentage grades to two identical papers from students.
For the first paper the scores ranged from 64 to 98, and the second from 50 to Some teachers focused on elements of grammar and style, neatness, spelling, and punctuation, while others considered only how well the message of the paper was communicated.
The following year Starch and Elliot repeated their study using geometry papers submitted to math teachers and found even greater variation in math grades. Scores on one of the math papers ranged from 28 to 95—a point difference.
While some teachers deducted points only for a wrong answer, many others took neatness, form, and spelling into consideration. These demonstrations of wide variation in grading practices led to a gradual move away from percentage scores to scales that had fewer and larger categories.
One was a three-point scale that employed the categories of Excellent, Average, and Poor. This reduction in the number of score categories served to reduce the variation in grades, but it did not solve the problem of teacher subjectivity. To ensure a fairer distribution of grades among teachers and to bring into check the subjective nature of scoring, the idea of grading based on the normal probability, bell-shaped curve became increasingly popular.
By this method, students were simply rank-ordered according to some measure of their performance or proficiency. A top percentage was then assigned a grade of A, the next percentage a grade of B, and so on.
Some advocates of this method even specified the precise percentages of students that should be assigned each grade, such as the system. Grading on the curve was considered appropriate at that time because it was well known that the distribution of students' intelligence test scores approximated a normal probability curve.
Since innate intelligence and school achievement were thought to be directly related, such a procedure seemed both fair and equitable.
Grading on the curve also relieved teachers of the difficult task of having to identify specific learning criteria.The current grading system should be upgraded and every school should incorporate the plus/minus system in their method of grading.
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in an Undergraduate Introductory Technology Course Ming Ma Pass / Fail grading system is another kind of criterion-referenced systems, which the current heated discussion on “grade inflation,” particularly by the American Academy of Arts.
Nevertheless, the key question remains, “What information provides the most accurate depiction of students' learning at this time?” In nearly all cases, the answer is “the most current information.” If students demonstrate that past assessment information doesn't accurately reflect their learning, new information must take its place.
With the current grading system (A-F), some students aren’t It looks like you've lost connection to our server. Please check your internet connection or reload this page. Peeking at their transcripts, students observed the effects of Drake University’s first semester under the recently implemented plus/minus grading system.
The average GPA of Drake student in fell from in the spring to in the fall, according to statistics compiled by the Office of Student Records. Nevertheless, the key question remains, “What information provides the most accurate depiction of students' learning at this time?” In nearly all cases, the answer is “the most current information.” If students demonstrate that past assessment information doesn't accurately reflect their learning, new information must take its place.