Shift A: Recognize Beliefs and Traditions of Grading

The first step in change is recognizing the need for change. This shift will promote reflection upon the origins of your own grading practices and the traditional roots of many of our current grading practices.  Conversations about grading can be deeply personal because we experienced grades as students and were generally successful in traditional grading systems. Now we, as educators, are creating the learning environment for our students. Where and when did you learn how to determine final grades?

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37 thoughts on “Shift A: Recognize Beliefs and Traditions of Grading

  1. Frank Palacio says:

    My grading system seeks to differentiate between tasks that are minor such as, points for homework and participation versus points for tests and quizzes which are major.

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  2. milla hill says:

    we talked about our way of grading and discussed the way of grading that is used in those articles

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  3. Jed Laderman says:

    most teachers never had formal training in grading
    I had a mentor teacher, but the emphasis wasn’t on grading

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  4. Karin Lopez says:

    I was never taught how to compute student’s final grades, I based my grading off of previous experiences I’ve had (student teaching, as a TA). Being a music class with no set curriculum, gives me the flexibility to create my own grading system. The current grading system reflects student performance, assessments (performance tests and/or written tests), class activities, and other individual/group projects.

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  5. I learned about grading during my first year of teaching. I came up with my own system, where an A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. This just seemed logical to me. Points were earned for classwork and homework completion, as well tests. I averaged the points over the number of grading opportunities and that was the student’s grade.

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  6. Alexander says:

    There has never been any formal training or explanation provided. I began grading based on the scale I was graded on as a student. 100-90=A, 89-80=B, 79-70=C, 69-60 = D 50-below =F

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  7. David says:

    My experience at final grading is a collection of personal experience, teacher training, LAUSD bulleting release, and using the program Easy Grade Pro. I remember the discussion about the difference between formative assessment/grading and summative assessment/grading. The former more for the teacher to gauge the class’s apprehension of the material and adjusting teaching content and approach. The former to evaluate the proficiency of the students learning of the content/class objectives.
    I still use this general approach, give a numerical to each assignment, enter the student’s numerical grade, and Easy Grade Pro “does the rest.” I use an average of the 1st Semester and 2nd semester grade to determine the final grade.

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  8. There wasn’t any discussion of grading in my Arts Education classes. When I started teaching studio art classes I thought letter grades could very subjective. I needed to design a grading system that was fair and steered the students in the performance assessment (art projects). I decided to use a 4,3,2 and 1 grading score correlated to a teaching rubric with four criteria points. The final grades were then calculated mathematically. I liked this system, however, the students seem to be confused by it as it was so different than their other classes that I revised it into a more traditional points system. I also
    noticed that other art teachers at other schools used letter grades with points so I have revised the
    value of the criteria on my rubrics. Students using a self-grading rubric was another feature I observed by a history teacher which I have adopted.

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  9. Cia Kirchner Rancho Dominguez says:

    Grading has always been very important to me as both a student and a teacher. In my middle school GATE classes, we were graded on process and final product. So long as we were making clear progress, our process grades were high. If our final products achieved the goals we had determined and discussed throughout, then our final grade was also high. For my first Master’s in Education my thesis was on “Clarifying the grading process”. Now that I have been teaching for over 20 years, I recognize that scoring a variety of projects, papers, quizzes and participation helps to make a more holistic grade for my middle school students. We use a computer grading program that allows us to enter the scores and calculates the final grade. Our Math department uses a weighting system, the English department does not. There is definitely room for exploration in terms of looking at how well a student is meeting the standards and how accurately the grades reflect that goal.

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  10. Deborah Wiltz says:

    As a teacher candidate, I was never enrolled in, nor heard of, a course related to how to assign final marks. I assume that I was exposed very superficially to this process as a student teacher only because one of my master teachers was awesome. As a new teacher, there was no formal discussion of a school or department policy on grading. Looking back, I developed my own (very likely with the support of my peers….I think). Grading is, and has been, under the purview of the individual teacher.

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  11. Deborah Wiltz says:

    As a teacher candidate, I never took nor heard of, a course taught relating to how course marks are to be assigned/generated. Looking back, I do not recall it ever being a conversation at any point. One of the two master teachers I had was awesome, so I assume I was first exposed to it during my student teaching but I can honestly state that I do not remember. As a new teacher, the school that I was assigned to had no grading policy, so I developed my own. In my experience, grading has always been under the jurisdiction of the individual teacher.

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  12. Angelo Spyropoulos says:

    I was never really taught how to compute final grades, however, I have always made sure to reflect on where the student began and where the student ended up with regard to improvement. I do this by reviewing various assessments and projects, as well as through teacher student discussions.

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  13. In my District Intern training we were given many suggestions about how to compute final grades. But the most valuable encounters regarding grades were with other teachers. We strive for fairness and validity in our grades, and by speaking with other teachers about ways of doing it, we are aided by the practice of others who are working for similar goals. Some teachers believe in tests and quizzes, some believe in projects, and some believe in homework. Personally, I try to incorporate all three in my efforts to grade students.

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  14. Kristal Benjamin says:

    I use a traditional grading scale for multiple choice quizzes. I also use a credit/ no credit system for class participation. I also do a lot of projects in my class that have a set criteria and a rubric that determines the final letter grade.

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  15. Lisa TK says:

    I use three grading systems. Ne is the rubric system that was developed in conjunction with the National Standard movement in Health education. It is a 4 point system based upon meeting the standard assessed for. The second grading system is based upon weighted points that equal grades, because LAUSD does not recognize rubric scores for Secondary Education. The third grading system is the IB rubric system based upon a scale of 8 that we have converted into points with 50 points being the equivalent of a fail. This is to ensure that a student does not fail due to incomplete work or no work completed for a project.

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  16. Jennifer Eils says:

    I was never taught how to compute final grades. Currently, I work with another teacher at my grade level and we decide what we will count towards final grades and develop guidelines for a 2, 3 or 4 on the report card.

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  17. My grade level, along with our literacy and ELD coordinators assisted me my first year in grading. During my first year, all report cards were handwritten with carbon copies attached. I was thankful for the assistance and the K team was very helpful and knowledgable

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  18. Beverly Junio says:

    When I think about it, I never was explicitly taught how to compute grades. My first time computing grades took a collaborative method with a co-teacher. Using a 4 point rubric, we had to determine to what extent a student was or was not meeting the content standards.

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  19. Sandra Alvarado says:

    I learned to compute grades during my first year of teaching. Before becoming a full time teacher, I was a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school, this was my first instruction in grading. As a first year teacher, I did not have a clear idea of effective grading practices. I was fortunate to be part of a great team of teachers who introduced me to rubrics and non-standard grading practices

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  20. Randy Childs says:

    I never received any direct training on how to compute grades in my credential program (LAUSD District Intern). There was an emphasis on the use of 4-point rubrics for informal and formative assessments in class, but multiple reminders not to directly translate these results into “points” or letter grades. So I had the point system and 90-80-70-60 percentage categories well ingrained from my own experiences as a student, but no guidance on how formative and summative assessments for students would or should correlate to the letter grades that were still mandated and still assigned a high level of importance.

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  21. Candace Johns says:

    I grade in the traditional way for tests and quizzes, meaning 100 to 90 is a 4, 89-75 is a 3, 74-60 is a 2 and below 60 is a 1. My students also earn points for participation in class discussions, group work activities, and for presentations.

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  22. Candace Johns says:

    My grading is traditional for tests and quizzes. In my class I also give credit and points for participation in class discussions, group activities, and for presentations.

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  23. teacherlucy says:

    When I was hired to teach a third grade class in 1998, I was given a mentor teacher. She pretty much guided my grading and everything I learned about grading was based on her expertise and experience. After teaching for so many years I developed my own criteria and using LAUSD’s grading scale of 4321, I established a percentage on my own to create a criteria chart and I have been trying to improve it ever since. As I am grade, I take into consideration their tests, quizzes, class participation,and their overall knowledge of the skill and the subject. But of course I also learned that grading can be subjective.

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  24. Toni Chu says:

    I also never was taught how to compute final grades. I used the traditional method based on tests and quizzes, allowing a little space for teacher discretion based on student participation. I try to collaborate with my grade level to make sure that we are as consistent as possible.

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  25. Thea says:

    The activity we participated in was interesting and successfully though provoking. I found that my experiences kind of guided how I initially weighted assessment. However, the way I weighted the assessment in a way that the student’s knowledge was not recognized because, he/she essentially failed despite having demonstrated strong basic knowledge and developing complex knowledge. Therefore, the activity forced me to rethink the importance of each level.

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  26. Cyndie says:

    I learned how to calculate final grades when I was student teaching. My mentor teacher used a pretty traditional grading system — 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, etc. The percentages were calculated based on a cumulative total of assignments in categories like tests/quizzes, projects, homework, etc.

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  27. Yasmin Gompers says:

    When I became a teacher I learned how to input grades on my own. I was a special ed TA before, I became a teacher and I used to help my teacher with grading. When it was time to enter grades for students I reflect on what I had learned from him and modified to fit my style.

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  28. vjn8067 says:

    I first began my career in teaching at the Secondary Level and grading criterion was established by the teachers of our Academic Disciplines . The Departments already had their devised grading systems. I was expected to follow the Department grading policies and our students were provided a copy of this grading to permit their comprehension and adherence to the objectives for receiving a passing grade. The system was a percentile one. Students received a grade for each day, their assignments and exams, which were equivalent to 10 points. The students were able to predict their daily and weekly grades, by observing their cooperation with this grading system. When our Department began to utilize electronic grading systems, the ability to provide more concrete percentages for written assignments, homework, participation and exams was introduced. I worked with my colleagues to establish grading criterion and rubrics to assist in student understanding. We attended workshops on Standard Based Education and how to utilize these standards in our teaching pedagogy. The system of grading remained percentile based, but I believed it was objective, fair and a reliable measurement of student understanding. All of my students were permitted to rewrite incomplete work and re-take exams to reflect the proficiency level. Make-up and extra-credit work was encouraged to reflect their acquired knowledge. Most of my students took full advantage of these opportunities to receive above average and excellent grades.

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  29. Jean Lui says:

    Grades in my general ed classroom have been a compilation of data: homework, quizzes, participation, test scores, extra credit. The first standard of measure was: A = 90 – 100%, B = 80 – 89%, C = 70 – 79%, D = 60 – 69%, F = 0 – 59%. LAUSD changed the elementary grading scale from A – F to 4 – 1. For some, the understanding has been 1 = F, 2 = C and D, 3 = A and B, 4 = Working above grade level. That understanding is not held by all, making our grading system inconsistent.

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  30. Kerry Buchman says:

    I first graded students in my English language classes at a non-public school for juvenile offenders.
    I basically graded as I was graded- on a 100 point scale.

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  31. Michael Ryther says:

    In my teacher education program there was a slight disdain for letter or number grades and we had discussions about creating portfolios of work that could tell more about a students’ progress than a single number or letter. My guiding teacher had he and his students come up with learning goals and then keep a log of which goals they completed. I wanted to employ something similar in my first grade classroom my first year of teaching. However, my first year of teaching was a bit overwhelming and so adopted the more traditional methods of grading being employed by my grade level cohorts. We got together and decided which assessments were going to count and for how much they would count. We had writing assessments, reading assessments and math assessments. The writing assessments were graded as a grade level so we could discuss borderline cases. Though growing up I was used to letter grades, as a teacher for LAUSD I have only given number grades 4,3,2,1. Later in my career as a classroom teacher, I attempted to have weekly conferences with my students to develop learning goals and keep track of progress. This was somewhat successful, but I found it unrealistic to meet with everyone weekly and there were times when conferences would be interrupted by first graders who were not able to work independently.

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  32. Sara Chapin says:

    I was never taught how to compute student final grades. My first experience with computing student final grades was with my grade level team last year (my first year teaching). I teach Kindergarten so our grade level developed criteria/rubrics and scales to compute final grades. We do not use points in Kinder to reach a grade but rather take many things into account such as: performance on assessments, teacher observation/field notes, student growth, in class work and participation.

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    • Adam Frankel says:

      I never took a class on grading, nor was it a topic that was mentioned much when I was in my teacher education program. I think my first exposure to grades and grading policy was when I was student teaching. My master teacher showed me how he did his grades. That was it.

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