Step 3 A: Traditional Grading

Read The Case Against Percentage Grades by Thomas Guskey, which provides some historical background on grading and discusses some problems with percentage grades.

Read It’s Time to Stop Averaging Grades by Rick Wormeli, which explores reasons why averaging grades is problematic.

Watch this short video and jot down notes collecting evidence or comments which resonate with you. (Note: if the video above does not load properly on this page, try using the link: )

Take a moment to answer the poll below.



In the comment section below, cite a piece of evidence from the above readings, video, or cartoon which resonated with you and elaborate on how or why it resonated with you.

1,302 thoughts on “Step 3 A: Traditional Grading

  1. Caryn says:

    The most important this to resonate with me was the fact that percentage grading doesn’t allow students to demonstrate growth. The poor test grade or grades that may have occurred early in the semester or grading period will always hold them back grade-wise. Improvement is not accounted for and slower learners are penalized. Students should be rewarded for growth and improvement. What else will motivate them and keep them interested in learning.


  2. Francisco Robles says:

    After reading the articles and watching the video I have been reflecting on my grading techniques.It makes you wonder if by grading with percentages we set our students for failing. I learned a lot by reading this informational articles on standard grading.


  3. Gloria Kaufman Harrington says:

    I watched the video about what’s wrong with traditional grading. I agree with the statements that if there are no comments on the paper or verbal feedback, students don’t know what they did wrong, kids don’t know how to improve, and they don’t learn from their mistakes. On the other hand, if students get good verbal and written feedback, it teaches them what they need to work on in order to improve and do better the next time. The video stated that sometimes students do not get to redo an assignment which I agree is very unfair. The video stated the traditional style is subjective and unfair. It stated further that students who get the lower grades tend to become individuals who will not challenge themselves but, instead will choose easier assignments. I agree with the video that we need a system that takes the stress off the students. In addition, we teachers need the stress taken off of us as well. We need more autonomy when it comes to strategies and styles of presenting the curriculum.


  4. Debby says:

    After watching the 4 minute video on standard based grading, I was appalled to see how inaccurate grading with no real feedback can really distort the potential academic ability of a student. Numbers with no intentional solution have not value. If a student is graded based on a 4 point scale and each number has a specific definition of clear expectations and how to improve, how can the student not grow academically. The A,B,C,D,F grading system is a system of grading that I grew up with. We all knew that the ‘A’ students were the smart kids, and the ‘C’ students were the average ones. For me, this grading ideology was firmly fixed in my brain. There is not real growth mindset in that grading philosophy. Now that I am older, I understand how my personal potential was limited by a grade that represented a percentage. I cannot recall any of my educators telling me, “Debby, the area of growth that you need to achieve a ‘B’ or ‘A’ would be….” Never ever heard these words. Maybe just maybe I could of been a different student, not the ‘C’ average student I was in the 80’s. I definitely want to avoid this type of grading for my special education students. Grades are not important to them, but their parents can see growth and feedback with a 4 point grading scale.


  5. Kris Nevills says:

    In the first article, what resonates with me is that there is no substitution for professional judgment. Integer grading makes more sense, is more objective, and provides all stakeholders; students, teachers, and parents with the expectations of learning.


  6. Stacie Kortkamp says:

    The comments about how the standard grade scale does not explain what student did wrong and does not tell them how to improve resonated with me. However, can’t that be overcome by leaving actionable feedback for students?

    The video also mentioned that students learn not to take risks and just do whatever is easy to get the most amount of points. Can’t students do this on a 4 point rubric also? Some will do just enough to get by.


  7. Monica L. Hunt says:

    Students often do the work, do homework, organize their materials an d still receive a “B”. This is what is problematic about traditional grading. Students need various opportunities to be successful. Coming from an elementary background is much different than middle school or high school. In elementary students still have the motivation and willingness to do well. I also use strategies like partner learning to keep students motivated.


  8. says:

    “From the perspective of simple logic, percentage grading scales make little sense. As noted earlier, teachers who use percentage grades typically set the minimum passing grade at 60 or 65. The result is a scale that identifies 60 or more distinct levels of failure and only 40 levels of success. In other words, nearly two-thirds of the percentage grading scale describes levels of failure! What message does that communicate to students?” This is the most powerful quote in the text, in my opinion. Being my first experience with Mastery Based Grading, this was the eye opener that changed my mindset. This quote illustrates how the odds are stacked against the struggling students and/or students with no support from home.


  9. HP- Julian Mendez says:

    The statement that resonates most with me is the on that students learn that it is bad to make mistakes so they become afraid to take risks. This is something that we overlook as teachers and that I never actually thought of. We must reinforce that learning is a process and that students must be encouraged to build on this.


  10. Jose Cervantes-Larios says:

    According to Thomas Guskey, “nearly two thirds of the percentage grading scale describes failure.” This quote made me realize how this grading system sets our students up for failure. When grading by percentages, students only have 1/3 chance of passing. This system fails to demonstrate mastery of learning. Students might have mastered the material; yet, because they did not do well on an assignment (according this grading system), they will not pass. As a high school teacher of Central American newcomers, it is very challenging to get these kids motivated. It would be even less motivating for them for me to have a system like the percentage one that sets them up for failure. Rather than to use this system, I must follow Guskey’s suggestion of a 0-4 that decreases the changes of failure for my students. Besides decreasing failure probabilities, this system will create more objectivity and connect more towards how much students are learning.


  11. Suzanne Silverstein says:

    The line that resonated with me from “It’s Time to Stop Averaging Grades” was “We don’t need to know how well he’s doing in relation to classmates nearly so much as how he’s doing in relation to his own progress and to societal standards declared for this grade level and subject.” This idea of seeing the growth of a student is also supported by the video, which suggests that seeing how a student has grown over a grading period in a specific area tells us so much more than just the average of his scores.


  12. Humberto Chaidez says:

    The part that hurts, is the student saying “I still don’t know anything.” We are not focused on learning and skill building but rather conditioning them to play within the system that already exists. When i can not tell my students how to improve or how to grow, then what type of educator am i? Also, I’m glad this mentioned giving students 2nd chances to improve what ever it is they need to improve on. That is my take away.


  13. Yolanda Casas says:

    According to the video, there are several problems with traditional grading. However, the one that reasoned most was “I learn mistakes are bad, so I avoid taking risks in the future.” Students that failed often tend to avoid doing school work as much as possible or altogether. One of the problems I see in middle schoolers is that many of them are not motivated to do their class work. And when they do begin working, they do not complete their assignments. Students should not feel punished with a bad grade. They need to be given the opportunity to redo an assignment to be able to show improvement.


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