Step 5 A: Digging Deeper

Part 1: What does the data say about grades?

Sample Grade vs. SBAC Data

Consider the scatter plot above, which represents data from an LAUSD high school. On the scatter plot,  each point represents a student. Student grades in 11th grade ELA (x-axis) are compared to their scores on the 11th grade ELA SBAC (y-axis). SBAC scores: 4=Standard Exceeded, 3=Standard Met, 2=Standard Nearly Met, and 1=Standard Not Met.

Given this information, what story does the scatter plot tell?  What might be some areas of concern?  Support your analysis with evidence.

Part 2: What do students say about grades?

Students Answer Questions About Grading – Consider asking your students what they think about grades.  You could have them respond orally, on paper, or create a Padlet (a free electronic Post it notes forum).  Here’s an example of the responses one teacher got when she did exactly that.

Part 3: Would you like to read more on this topic?

“Grading Policies That Work Against Standards . . . And How To Fix Them” – In “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards. . . . And How To Fix Them” Thomas R. Guskey, author of numerous books on Standards-Based Grading, suggests remedies to four traditional grading practices:  grading on a curve, valedictorian selection, punishment grading, and using zeros in grading.

A History of Grading -This academic article provides a brief timeline and description of the evolution of grades.

Making the Grade: A History of the A-F Marking Scheme – This lengthy academic article on the history of grades outlines the origins and permutations of grades over time since 1785.

Read one or more of the resources above. In the comments section below, cite textual evidence and explain “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”


1,318 thoughts on “Step 5 A: Digging Deeper

  1. San Fernando High - Mettlen says:

    The scatter plot data make it seem like the letter grades that students receive are completely arbitrary, as we can see that students with each letter grade scored at all 4 of the SBAC performance levels. This is a concern as students earning letter grades of A are not showing that they have mastered the standards, and there are students who have masters the standards by receiving 3 or 4 on the SBAC, but are completely failing their classes.

    In reading the responses from the students about grading, it seems like students have a wide variety of responses to the ideas surrounding grading. Many students mentioned negative feeling towards grades and suggested that negative grades at the beginning of a course are hard to overcome later on. Students also suggested that if it weren’t for grades, they might not be motivated to try at all in their school work. These ideas suggest that there are problems in the k-12 grading system, like the grade of 0 and the idea of focusing on the competition between students rather than the learning that each has achieved.


  2. Andrea Smith says:

    “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards…And How to Fix Them” regards grading on a curve to be useless in knowing what a student has learned. Thomas R. Guskey states that this practice breeds “unhealthy competition.” He believes there are better ways to motivate and encourage students. It takes “careful planning, thoughtful judgement and caring for the students.” The problem that you find with the traditional K-12 grading practice is that students are competing with others rather than themselves. All students are different and yet capable in their own learning styles and their own achievements. Teachers must have a clear focus of purpose and grade on that, taking each student as they are.


  3. Loyda Ramos says:

    What might be some problems with traditional grading?

    Part 1: Digging a little deeper into this step of shift A has really brought up some important problems with traditional grading. Just by looking at the scatter plot of grades, it is very clear that grades and SBAC scores are in no way correlating. With a little more information such as grading practices and student input on their experience with the SBAC test we would understand more, however just with the scatter we can assume a few problems. First, why are some students who did not receive a 3 or 4 in ELA score so well on the SBAC and vice versa if reversed. Is there some discrepancies with grading practices from teachers? Perhaps and issue may be that there is little coherences about instruction or simply grading practices? Are some students simply better test takers? With more specifics, there may be more clear understanding about why these scores are what they are.

    Part 2: What do students say about grades? Reading what students think and say about grades has truly shifted my understanding about the problems with traditional grading. For example, some of the problems the students shared were how grades are normally based on tests therefore causing them anxieties. Secondly, a students discussed how grades becomes more of “memorization” rather than internalizing or learning the materials. I cannot argue how true this is, students focus on learning terminology or algorithms rather than understanding the process and context of materials they are learning. Not to mention that some students, especially those who actually put SO much EFFORT come out failing when grades come in. In these cases, grades have an obvious negative effect on students because here they are putting a lot of effort and the results of a fail brings down self esteem and motivation as well. If anything can be done for ALL our students is to teach them about having a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset, and in return teachers should provide multiple opportunities to master a skill rather than assign a failing grade and moving them along.

    Part 3: The Article that really resonates with me was Guskey’s “Grading Policies that work Against Standards…And How to Fix Them”

    Guskey brings up many problems with grading on a curve or through normative assessments. According to Guskey “grading on a curve tells nothing about what students have learned or are able to do” If there is one take away from this, grades should not be there to have a negative effect on students, but rather focus on how we can teach and help our students improve in those difficult subjects. A remedy that Guskey recommended is that teachers should shift grading practices towards giving our students a clear criteria, he states ” teachers should identify what thy want their student to learn…teachers should clarify their standards and their grading criteria”. By doing this, i believe that students will have a more clear understanding of the purpose of what they are learning and will be tested on. Guskey also discussed an important issue about Incomplete vs. Zeros. Giving a zero is usually intended for punishing a student who did not turn in an assignment. That Zero has a message that tells the students, “well I got a zero too bad oh well, why should I bother to try and make up the assignment” For this reason, assigning an Incomplete might send the opposite message that allows the student to not only improve, but also give them accountability. In order to remove the incomplete, the student can attend after school, or saturday school, or even turn in another assignment to make up for the one they did not submit. This idea of zero’s really made me understand that traditional grading needs to be revamped and improved to help our students succeed.


  4. Part 1
    Students that are earning a grade of F in their class are scoring a 3 or 4 on the SBAC. They clearly know the material well, but for some reason are not performing in the class. From the plot, we do not have the information of why this is, but we can speculate. One reason is that the teacher is grading students on behavior. Another reason is that the teacher is counting the homework and classwork for a large percent of the grade. Another reason is that the student doesn’t like the teacher or is lazy and doesn’t do work or score well on the tests but for some reason or the environment decides to try on the SBAC and understands the material well. The other side of the story is that students are scoring 1 and 2 on the SBAC but getting an A or B in the class. This could be for the same reasons above but opposite. For example, teacher just like that student and gives them a grade that they don’t deserve or she feels bad cause she sees them trying. It could also be because homework and classwork count for a large part of the grade and the student puts the effort in there but really doesn’t understand the work well enough to pass tests.
    Part 2
    After reading student’s comments and my own personal experiences in the classroom, I believe that students often really don’t understand why they are earning the grades that they earn. They look at their test and see a Fail but have no idea why or how to correct the mistakes or understand that correcting the mistakes will make a difference in their grade. We even put most missed questions on the next quiz and test and spiral everything and I still don’t have many students that will come and see why they got the problems wrong to try and correct them for the next test. Because of that, I think that letting them redo the test is a good idea because the motivation when you can replace a bad grade is higher. I also know from experience that there are many drawbacks to this process too. One being that in the last section where the student went to Berkely and was shocked at the level of work required. I feel that continually letting students retake a test give them a false sense of how it is in college and the real world.



    1. The scatter plot tells me that the grades are greatly skewed. For example, there were only three students who got 1 on the SBAC, but somehow they managed to pass with an A in their ELA class. There are also students who are getting 3’s and 4’s on the SBAC but are getting D’s and F’s in the class. The scores and the grades are not correlating.

    2. Based on the example responses by the teacher, the students seem split on what they think about grades. While a lot of them hate the notion of being categorized as ‘just a GPA’, a lot of students prefer to still get some sort of constructive feedback on how they are progressing. It seems that for the most part, the students want the teacher to help them focus on the positives that they see in their growth rather than remind them of their flaws. There are still students that want to know where they are percentage-wise so they can push their grades up, but it seems that about half of them feel that knowing the percentage is less than 70% works to only rank them.

    3. In “History of Grading”, there are inconsistencies across the board. According to the article, colleges and universities never really had a system down of grading students. Rather, it was grouping students by family status (Durm p.1, paragraph 6). What most of the Ivy Leagues was merely trial and error. After the colleges dropped the social ranking, they started doing more of what we do now: give descriptive adjectives about student performance and splitting them up into divisions: students who excelled, students who were proficient, students who barely passed, and students who failed. This is how the 4 point system is eventually adopted and transferred to the letter grades. I think that this proves that there is not a whole lot of evidence that this is how we should grade but rather that grading can still evolve.


  6. Irineo Yanez says:

    Part 1:
    The plots on the chart don’t correlate. You have students earning an A in the
    Class, yet receiving a 1 on the SBAC. Some students even earning a B or a C in the class are receiving a 1 on the SBAC. Those grades and scores don’t correlate. On the other end, you have students receiving a score of 4 or 3 on the SBAC and earning a D or an F in the class. Again these scores and grades don’t correlate.

    Part 2:
    Based on the reading, there seems to be a split on this issue within students. Some students think it has a positive effect while some students believe it has a negative effect. Some students that see it as a negative seem to thingkthat grades don’t demonstrate learning and that grades are just a way of ranking students. On the other hand, students who see grades as a positive see them as a form of feedback and motivation.

    Part 3:
    Again the issue of inconsistency arises. Throughout history, the grading system has been inconsistent. This parallels teachers in classrooms. What is an A for one teacher might not be an A for another. There should be more consistency across the board when establishing norms for grading.


  7. M. Seestedt says:

    Part 1: What does the data say about grades?
    The scatter plot data shows that there is a discrepancy between grading practices and standardized testing. This suggests that there is something wrong with how teachers are grading and testing scores. Students that are exceeding and meeting standards in SBAC are receiving failing grades. At the same time students testing at standards nearly met and not met are receiving passing grades. One would assume that if you are meeting standards in class, then you would be meeting state testing standards.

    An area of concern would be is if teachers are grading standards that are aligned with SBAC. Also are teachers grading on a fair scale.

    Part 2: What do students say about grades?
    The majority of the students that responded feel that testing has a negative impact on their learning. Many suggested that it doesn’t help them improve or measure what they are actually learning. However, some felt testing is necessary to get into college.

    Part 3: Would you like to read more on this topic?
    Read one or more of the resources above. In the comments section below, cite textual evidence and explain “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”

    In “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards. . . . And How To Fix Them” by Thomas R. Guskey, suggests that there are many issues with traditional grading practices. These practices are grading on a curve, valedictorian selection, punishment grading, and using zeros in grading.

    When grading on a curve, Guskey says that it can have a “detrimental impact amongst students.” It can create a highly competitive environment with students feeling they are in competition with others. This can create a negative learning environment with negative consequences. Similarly, valedictorian selection, also contributes to this negative learning environment because only one student can be selected.

    All these factors are important to examine because of the negative impacts it has on students.


  8. Rasheda Young says:

    Unfortunately, by looking at the graphs, it is clear that as students progress through the education system, their test scores are very skewed in relation to the grade that they earn in class. For example, when a student is in third grade, their test to subject grade score is nearly equivalent. By contrast, an eleventh grade student’s test score may be “below standard,” yet the student is earning a passing grade in the class. It is clear that grading is not standardized across the board. An implication is that social promotion is detrimental to student achievement; as students begin falling behind in school, they are not able to keep up with learning grade level content while acquiring the needed skills in order to keep in step academically with their on grade-level peers.


  9. Rasheda Young says:

    In the section titled, “Students Answer Questions About Grading,” a number of students were ambivalent about the effectiveness of grading. While they believed that students should be graded, they preferred constructive feedback over a numeric score. They also emphasized that they preferred to be taught in a way that focused on the depth and quality of their knowledge instead of cramming for a test just to forget the information soon after.


  10. laurenvaron says:

    The scatter plot shows that when teachers use an A-F grading system, students’ grades are not aligning with their SBAC scores. The graph shows students who are receiving a C in ELA who are also scoring a 1 on the SBAC. There’s also evidence of students failing the class who are getting a 3 or 4 on the SBAC. The biggest area of concern for me is that we need to find a grading system that will reflect students’ mastery of concepts and in doing so hopefully come closer to their SBAC scores.

    Two more issues with K-12 grading that Thomas R. Guskey highlights are grading on a curve and punishing students with low grades. One of the problems with grading on a curve is that students are not being graded based on what they have learned and are able to do. Instead they are being graded based on comparisons with classmates. Also, students compete with one another in order to receive one of the few high scores. Guskey argues that there are no studies that support using low grades as punishments. Low grades do not push students to increase their effort in the class and instead have the opposite effect and cause students to withdraw from learning. Instead, he suggests marks students work as incomplete and giving students additional opportunities to show effort.


  11. Noe Solares says:

    The SBAC results and grade distribution chart proves what the LA Times article about a South LA student is trying to illustrate, giving good grades to students who come to school with a great attitude but are meeting the academic standards. So we are assigning grades based on the student behavior, not the student academic performance. We as we read in the LA Times article, this type of grading practices have detrimental consequences for our students.
    The sample responses to grading practices, we see that all students agree that grading has negative and positive consequences. As educators, we need to listen to the students and see how we can mitigate or illuminate those negative consequences.
    In looking at our grading policies, we need to change our grading policies. It is suggested that grading on the curve should not be a competition among students in a class, but a curve on a particular student that needs to be mastered. Selecting a single valedictorian is like grading on the curve, the article suggests that multiple students should be allowed to be named valedictorian if the achieved certain standards. Using zeros and using grades as punishment is wrong and such grading practices should not be used.


  12. Angelique McNiff says:

    Part 1:
    The data suggests that teachers’ grading practices do not align to tests that test for skills. If the tests are truly testing skills, as the newer forms of the SBAC seem to more accurately do, the teachers’ grading scales do not align; thus, the question arises, “How much of our grades should be skills based/standards based?” Teachers know that students enter at varied skill levels, some ready to pass all tests at the exceptional level at the beginning of the semester and some who could work all year and never come close to passing the tests. Thus, what percentage of grading should be based on skills and what percentage on elements such as improvement, turn-in ratio, effort, etc.

    Part 2:
    As this course is offered in summer and we can not ask current students their views on grades, the article must suffice. The article has student responses to questions about grades and typically indicates that some students see grades as motivation, some see them as accurate reflectors, some see them as inaccurate, and some see them as detractors. Some student hate being seen as a number while others relish their number. The students who discuss the accuracy of the numbers do all indicate that the numbers alone do not indicate proficiency, thus the main point of this course is therein discussed.

    Part 3:
    The first detrimental grading practice mentioned in the article, “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards , , , and How to Fix Them“, is to grade on a curve, which the author suggests erodes the relationships between the students and between the student and the teacher and doesn’t accurately show what the student has accomplished. It suggests this can be fixed by teachers who determine the learning goals and plan accordingly and then grade accordingly. The second issue is less of an issue as it is a largely outdated one: one valedictorian. The article discusses the problems with this practice but almost all schools have abandoned the idea of only one valedictorian. The third detriment is the use of grades as punishment, but the article’s suggestion is tied for the weakest overall as it is a policy change at the district level and although teachers can put pressure for such a change (Incomplete; no D or F) the teacher can not violate district policy in this matter. Better evidence would have been to give motivation techniques. The final detriment is the practice of students earning grades of zero. The article discusses giving incompletes but the acknowledges that its suggestion for students fixing the incomplete requires funding and policy changes, once again, at the district level; this renders it once again out of the hands of the teacher and therefore an unhelpful suggestion. This article mentions 4 detriments but the portion dedicated to solutions is largely useless.



    Given this information, what story does the scatter plot tell? What might be some areas of concern? Support your analysis with evidence.

    There is not a strong correlation between grades and SBAC scores. Students who were given a 1 in class were scoring a 4 on the SBAC while the other extreme was also true. The grades did not prepare students for a similar outcome on the SBAC test and the grades were not predictive of student achievement on the test. Likewise, the SBAC test showed more mastery than teachers gave some of the students credit for, which means maybe their grading, assessment, or other factors need to be taken into account to make the correlation between the two stronger.

    Part 2: Students either felt that grading had a positive influence, negative, or there were elements of both. It can be motivating or punishing.

    “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”

    Guskey’s article has a section that really hit home for me, it was about grading on a curve and how students will not feel like collaborating with one another because they are competing with each other. This is completely against what we are trying to do in our classrooms and it is one of the problems with traditional k-12 grading practices. Guskey outlines four clear grading policies that are barriers for improving student learning outcomes.


  14. Rick G says:

    In the history of grading article, the author does show the evolution of our current marking system, which if one is to accept that a bureaucratic system of grading student learning is beneficial to our society, is at best a coarse tool and at worst a discriminatory weapon that imposes failure on many and success on few. In this sense, however, it seems consistent with our competitive culture.


  15. Allison Conant says:

    There is a great deal of information here that speaks to the inaccuracies and inefficiencies of our current grading system. Obviously looking at the graphs, our grading policies don’t reflect what the students actually know in terms of the standards. Reading the students’ comments, they too are aware of the inaccuracies and subjective quality of grades. I really do understand why we need to approach the topic w/ a growth mindset. If we are all aware of the unfairness and lack of logic. we clearly need to work together to find a way of making the system more accurate and more appropriate — take the subjectivity out where possible. I think part of this is cultural — as Americans we get this sense of “you get what you pay for” — and that seems to follow as far as grading is concerned. We are encouraged to say “you earned your grade” not “the grade I gave you”. I get that, but we also have to realize that we are part of a system that impacts students positively or negatively — we have to take what they know and understand to be fair and true into consideration and we have to be willing to make changes and accommodations when we become aware of faults in our grading strategies.


  16. Jenny Burman says:

    The scatter plot shows how ineffective our current grading practices and assessments are. In the Article it states the need for grades to mean something across institutions. When, “Reformers likened these report cards to merchant ledgers, which emphasized the accumulation of success over time and provided a running account of a student’s academic success,” it means that we are aligning our grading to capitalistic measures. I would hope that we can align our grading to more natural structures like redwood forests or soil structures. Just because capitalism is what we have, doesn’t mean it is the best for everyone. Looking at an alternative model like the Arroyo S.E.C.O time bank will show that the common practice is not always the best. Similarly just because we have been grading with A-F for so long doesn’t mean it is the best for all students.


  17. Sophia Kang says:

    Part 1: Given this information, what story does the scatter plot tell? What might be some areas of concern? Support your analysis with evidence.

    The story shows that in the primary grades, students’ grades are more directly correlated with their SBAC scores. However, as we progress to high school, there’s little relationship between the SBAC scores and students’ class grades. This suggests that although a student might be at grade level in their reading and math skills, if the teacher assigns grades subjectively based on student attendance and efforts, the student’s grades might be lower in class. Data demonstrating that a student “exceeding standard” is receiving a low class grade might suggest that the student is not being challenged enough.

    Part 2: What are students saying about grades?

    There are two major points that students are making about grades. One is that it puts too much emphasis on numbers instead of learning. However, there are also students stating that it gives students healthy pressure to work hard. What the students do not mention is that grades can work to help students if it provides feedback and challenges them to improve. Numbers by itself take away from the learning experience, but when it is paired with feedback, it gives students motivation.

    Part 3: Read one or more of the resources above. In the comments section below, cite textual evidence and explain “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”

    In the article “An A is Not an A is Not an A,” it states that “[V]ariability in the marks given for the same subject and to the same pupils by different instructors is so great as frequently to work real injustice to the students.” I believe that a problem with traditional K-12 grading practices is when teachers isolate themselves from collaborative work with other teachers. As an English teacher, in order to decrease the chances of variability, my 11th grade English teachers and I meet together routinely to grade similar assignments together to make sure that we are on the same page in regards to each of the rubric standards. Teacher collaboration and discussions of what constitutes an A, B, or C paper decreases the chances of variability and leaves room for discussions about how they could improve teaching together.


  18. Jill Hagan says:

    Part 1: The scatter plot tends to show that grades may be inflated compared to the SBAC scores. I still have questions about the SBAC. Is the SBAC really a good indicator of what students know? Have there been studies on correlations of high SBAC scores and success in college? I am wondering if we are skewing our teaching too much in the direction of teaching to the test, rather than really analyzing if this test actually measures true student skills. I guess that I probably do not have enough confidence or knowledge about the SBAC to see if it really can measure what my students learn, or if it is just another standardized test.

    Part 2: What do students say about grades?
    I like the idea to survey students about what they think about grades. I have an extensive Surveymonkey that I give to students at the end of each semester on all different aspects of the class, including homework, projects, fun and learning. I think that this would be a great survey to give at the beginning of the semester and then at the end of each semester. There were two quotes that intrigued me, both as a student and as a teacher.

    Daniel Sheehan said, “Grading gives me the drive to learn that I don’t think I would not have if my classwork was not graded.” When I was a student, I probably would not have done my work if it was not graded, as there was always so much to do.

    Cameron Brown said, “Grading has both a positive and negative influence on learning. It motivates students to perform well, but it warps our education to be test-oriented. Students don’t care about if they understand the material, they only care about the letter.” This is why I will spend a lot of time correcting the final draft of an essay for students. They must then correct the final draft before their final submission. Before, I would spend 10-15 minutes on an essay giving feedback, and I saw students only cared about the score. Now, they have to correct their work on the final submission and turn in the final draft, along with all other drafts, and do a reflection for their final grade.

    Part 3: Would you like to read more on this topic?
    “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards . . . And How To Fix Them” – 

    I like the remedy for the punishment grading, where students receive an Incomplete for work. Students must attend extra Saturday classes or summer school if they are receiving incompletes. This takes extra work and resources. Many students could be persuaded to attend; however, there are some families that do not send their students to regular school on a regular basis and their attendance is part of the reason that students have incompletes. Mandating extra classes might not work with those families so I am wondering what happens if students and/or families do not come. Now, LAUSD does not have summer school for middle school students. I cannot make a student come in during lunch for extra help, though I can encourage them. We do not have Saturday classes, but we do have extra support classes and clubs on Mondays and Wednesdays. However, we can mandate that a student attend those classes.


  19. Brenda Casanova says:

    These graphs show the inconsistency around SBAC performance levels and academic marks. For example, for students who took the SBAC in 11th grade, there are a lot of students who are nearly meeting or meeting the standards but are receiving high A’s and B’s. This makes me wonder is tests are actually reflecting our students skills and abilities. Also, are we teaching to be true to the standards only or also to our students? How else are we measuring students’ readiness to go to college? Is the entire purpose of the school year for students to be prepared to take these tests? Why are they so high stakes? I am left with a lot of questions about state testing after seeing this document.


  20. AmberK says:

    In the article, “Grading Policies That Work Against Standards . . . And How To Fix Them”, the author discusses many traditional grading practices that have not been effective, such as choosing a valedictorian, grading with a zero, and grading on a curve. With these types of ineffective practices, the authors asks the reader to consider some alternatives. The practice that stood out to me was the Grading on a Curve. I remember it being a big grading practice when I was in high school, and I don’t think teachers still use it today, mainly because of all the ineffective outcomes resulting from it. Grading on a curve makes learning highly competitive when the goal is to simply do better than your classmates. This practice does not help a teacher understand what his/her students know.


  21. Stefnie Evans says:

    The scatterplot shows a definite disconnect between classroom grading and state testing standards. It could be that what the teacher focused on as important standards did not correlate to the standards being assessed by the state, which is a problem. However, it should not be that a student receiving an A in a course does not have the capability to think and ponder related concepts,even if they were not specifically taught. Similarly, students who received failing marks in the course being able to perform at the highest level on the state exam shows that there is something wrong with teaching and learning.

    The problems with traditional grading are many, but the focus of the articles read was finding the connection to why grades are assigned in the first place. The students who responded to their understanding of receiving grades, had an overwhelming response of feeling that grades should tell students where they are, but also where they need improvement. The traditional grading system does not do that, and consequently students are confused on how to grow and improve their skills in a course. In the Guskey artcle, it states on page 26, “If the grade is to represent how well students have learned or mastered established learning standards…” then everything must be re-thought about how we grade students. This includes wrestling with zeros, or creating a new category of Incomplete so students know that F’s are unacceptable; basically thinking outside of the traditional grading box to use grades to inform students and describe what they know from what a teacher has required them to learn.


  22. Michael Dang says:

    In students’ thoughts about grading, students state that grading tells “little in terms of having the student know on what they need to learn or improve”. Additionally, “grading is a negative influence on learning because it only provide a student with a score to compare him/herself with others.” In addition to coming up short with reflecting actual student learning, traditional grading squanders an opportunity for teachers to help students develop productive mindsets and socioemotionally. As such, grading should be seen not as an unavoidable process of education but instead as a crucial component of education that helps each person develop on a more profound level.


  23. Sonya Kinsey says:

    Part 1:
    The scatter plot graph indicates that the students’ grades do not correlate with the SBAC Test Scores. The students receiving high grades but low SBAC Test Scores may lead to the issues: are the SBAC Standards addressed in the classroom or are there other test taking factors that might influence test scores.
    Part 2:
    What do students say about grading?
    Most of the students that were polled in the article, advised that there was a positive and a negative
    aspect to the current grading practices. For example, one student thought it was positive because it motivates one to work hard to earn a good grade. Whereas a student felt it was negative because it is based on a 100 point system, having students seen as grade point averages instead of individuals that can grow.
    Part 3:
    What might be some problems with traditional k-12 grading practices?
    According to the article, “Grading Practices That Work Against Standards…and How To Fix Them”,by Thomas Guskey, indicated four procedural barriers for grading practices that work against standards and a remedy for each. In reviewing his article, I strongly agree with the four
    and his given remedies. Guskey’s four procedural barriers include:
    First : Grading on a curve
    Remedy : grading should be referenced to specific criteria
    Second: Select Valedictorian
    Remedy: select all students who meet the criteria
    Third: grades as punishment
    Remedy: instead of giving a zero for missing work, give an incomplete, students
    can make it up during after school or Saturday school
    Fourth: Using Zeros on grading
    Remedy: give an incomplete as the grade until work is made up.
    I believe that Guskey’s remedies will prove great reform in gragin practices,if given the chance.


  24. S Duran says:

    Gusky mentions that our current grading system is faulty, especially when we start grading on a curve. The student with the highest grade might not have mastered the standard or the learning objective since “grading on a curve does not communicate what students have learned or are able to do”. The student might be a good test-taker, and the passing grade might not reflect mastery. Also, based on the SBAC scatter plot, we can infer that even though students who have As, were not able to meet the SBAC standards. On the other hand, students who earned Fs, were able to achieve 3 and 4 on the SBAC, demonstrating that they have been able to master academic skills that allow them to be proficient on the SBAC.


  25. Susan Enman says:

    Read one or more of the resources above. In the comments section below, cite textual evidence and explain “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”
    The graph gives evidence that our current grading system is faulty. It illustrates that there is little to no correlation between SBAC scores and classroom grades across several students. For example, there are several students who received A or B, however they did not meet standards of the SBAC. Conversely, there were also several students who performed well on the SBAC, i.e. 3 or 4 but did not do well on in class grading. This tells me that our current grading practices are not efficient in evaluate knowledge of student content.
    I read the first blog, which was a mixed batch of information, however the most memorable post stated that grades can demotivate you. That is what can happen if a student feels as if they can never catch up. Another student mentioned that our current grading system focuses the student on grading rather than learning the content. The integer grading system would alleviate that.


  26. Shauna Segal says:

    In the scatter plot the limited correlation between grades and standardized test scores is problematic. A reasonable inference is that the grades may not be an accurate representation of the content mastery of the students. Looking at the Guskey article, I agree that assessment should “reference…specific learning criteria.” For example, there is specific content that my students need to master to be ready for the next level in Math. Selecting valedictorians can result in students choosing less challenging work and/or losing their focus on learning. Low grades do not in my experience motivate students, and zeroes can lead to inaccurate impressions of student understanding.


  27. ISELA DE LA TORRE says:

    Part 1: What does the data say about grades?
    I think the data says that the grades given to these 11th grade students aren’t correlating with their performance level on SBAC. The students who had A-C did not necessarily score at the MET level on the SBAC. So the grades we’re assigning students, like Kashawn, are inflated and do not reflect a student’s performance ability when we look at their college readiness. According to these results, a very large group of students is performing at level 1 & 2 on the SBAC, which is used as an indicator of their college readiness. The concern is that there are just way too many NOT at the college readiness level. Even when kids get As and Bs, that does not mean they are necessarily prepared for what colleges expect them to do according to this data. There is great work to be done if we expect our students to be successful at the university level. Our school system is failing our kids and we’re not being effective enough in supporting our students.

    Part 2: What do students say about grades?
    I don’t have a group of students to question about grades, but I did ask my daughter who is now in college. She shared that assigning grades can mess with your psyche because “it’s almost as if they’re putting a value on your worth as a person”. She also feels that there are too many other factors, like testing anxiety, home life, etc., that have to be considered. She feels it’s important for those assigning those grades to think about the kind of feedback they’re giving, if any at all. She feels guiding questions would be more beneficial, in conjunction with comments. She thinks any number system in grading a student’s learning can be damaging to their confidence as learners.
    Read one or more of the resources above. In the comments section below, cite textual evidence and explain “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”

    In reading Guskey, it’s clear to see that there are many problems with our current grading practices because they are counterproductive in a standards based system. He in fact goes on to say that current practices are an actual barrier to learning. “Nevertheless, their powerful influence can prevent even modest success in any standards-based reform initiative.” So, the problem remains that grading practices must coincide better with this standards based teaching and learning shift. We are behind in that aspect and more work needs to be done in this area. If the common core state standards are a reform to make kids “college ready”, then the grading practices must also be reformed, otherwise it’s an ineffective reform. All the parts have to work together if we want to make sure that our students make it into, and through college.


  28. C Bakewell says:

    The student Ben S. made several points I agree with in his response to the questions posed about grading in the questionnaire, Students Answer Questions About Grading. He said that students think about the grade, rather than what they have learned. I agree that grades, or the way we currently grade, take away some of the joy and intrinsic motivation for learning. Ben S. also said that grading usually involves test and quizzes. As Ben put it, “A student can still learn and not succeed on a test.”
    I agree with Ben’s final statement that grading on participation and written participation is a good form of grading. I feel that when a student has an opportunity to write what they know or remember about a topic, they demonstrate more authentic knowledge of a topic than answering multiple choice questions which can be confusing to read and answer.


  29. Lucrecia Apanay says:

    Looking closely at the set of data on the scattered plot, it is obvious how unreliable, inconsistent, and inaccurate our grading system is. Of all of the students who received a grade of A by their teachers, how is it possible for any of them to receive a Not Met or Nearly Met on the SBAC? Puzzling! That’s the reason I always dread grading every time a reporting period comes around!


  30. Shareen Gochoel says:

    Part 1: The story of this scatter plot shows that just because a student gets a good grade in their class it doesn’t necessarily mean they will score well on the SBAC, and inversely if a student gets a low grade in class they can still do well on the SBAC. For example, there were six students that Failed the class but scored a 4 on the SBAC. Is this the fault of the grading system used by the instructor? Or the fault of the tests?

    Part 2: I really enjoyed the article, A History of Grading. It was interesting to learn that colleges from the very beginning had some method of student evaluation, but there was no standard, and that some schools listed their students by the social position of the families. This shows that we are constantly growing and changing in education and there is hope for us yet to develop an equitable system!


  31. David Garringer says:

    The data analysis was very eye-opening. Even though the CA State Standards have been in existence for a few years now does everyone truly understand the expectations and key aspects of each grade level. There are some who do not feel that SBAC is a true indicator of success but that is the current model in which have been and will be increasingly evaluated. It is currently the only state wide assessment used to measure student achievement and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.


  32. Maria E. Guzman says:

    These graphs show an inconsistency in grading and the SBAC. Students who receive a grade of A, do not necessarily score high on the SBAC. In fact, a high school teacher that I met at today’s training stated that students in this situation are required to take a remedial course that focuses on improving their SBAC score.


  33. Jennifer Bower says:

    Regarding the scatter plot:

    (1) Students scoring a 4 on the SBAC while failing thier ELA course seem to indicate that the student in bored in class. As educators, we often focus on supporting the struggling student populations (Special Ed. and English Learners.) Too often, we omit the support needed for the Gifted or advanced student. Academic counselors must properly place students in courses that both support and challenge students. Teachers must balance remediatioin with enrichment.

    (2) Students scoring a 1 on the SBAC while earining an “A” in their ELA course indicate either grade inflation or an acute external social/emotional event experienced by the student during the administration of the SBAC. Proficiency in the classroom should be standards-based with clear rubrics provided to the students ahead of time. Other than academic instruction, teachers can also instruct students on how to properly deal with external traumas through social/emotional learning.

    In the article “Grading Policies that Work Against Standards”, I found the most applicable information to be the assignmen of an Incomplete versus a Zero. Our school district has mandated an electronic grading system that offers this option…yeah! In the same article, ensuring consistent grade distribution from one teacher to the next is brought up as a reason for using a normal distribution curve. This has been a highly emphasized point in my school for the past few years. We must balance the need for consistency with fair grading practices. One is not necessarily sacrificed for the other!


  34. Alison Gillis says:

    I liked reading the article, “Students Answer Questions About Grading” even though it confirmed what I already believed students thought about grades. Many students are mainly concerned with the grade they get because that is what is going to help them get into college. A student in the article says, “Students don’t care about whether we understand the material or not. As long as we have a good grade is all that matters. It’s more about how much information do we remember, not how well we understand it in some subjects.” It shouldn’t be a surprise that students feel it is more important to get good grades over actually learning the material because there is such a huge emphasis on your GPA when applying for colleges. I think it will take a lot of time and effort in order to change these attitudes towards getting a good grade being prioritized over learning. I think this is something that will need to be tackled by districts, schools, teachers, and colleges.


  35. In the padlet with students’ opinions about grades, many students were ambivalent. They recognized that grades are an important metric in determining who learned what, but they also felt grades are stressful and can lead to negative feelings of accomplishment and self-worth. In the articles about the history of grades, I was surprised to learn that the current ABC grades have only been in use for a little more than a century. In another article, I learned that some schools do not give Fail grades. Instead they issue Incompletes, and the student has the responsibility to complete the work to earn credit. When I attended college in France, Fails were also not given. Instead, the course did not appear on the report card or transcript; it was as if the student had never attempted it. So apparently the current concept of grades is not cast in granite, and there is work to be done.
    I like the idea of allowing students to redo high-stakes assignments and tests to raise their scores, though I also worry that some students will not take it seriously the first time or will use the test as a way to learn the exact questions that are being tested. These issues can be alleviated by using practice tests and by requiring at least some redos on the student’s own time such as lunch or after school. I also like the idea of giving Incompletes instead of Fails since students now have the responsibility to finish what they started rather than being let off the hook.


  36. Elizabeth Onyango says:

    In the article “Students answer questions about grades’, we see that the students have negative feelings about what traditional grades mean to them. One student states that “grading is a negative influence on learning because it only provides a student with a score to compare him/herself with others. The number means very little in terms of having the student know on what they need to learn or improve’. This perception definitely portrays the fact that even before sitting for the assessment, the student has defeated the teacher’s intent of the assessment.


  37. Mersedeh Vahdat says:

    The article, what student say about grades?, shows how observant our students are. They perfectly highlighted the weaknesses of traditional grading policy such as numbers mean little, grades does not show what we have learned, low grades pull down the final grade no matter how much improvement we made, discourages many of us to care about learning, grades can be motivational for proficient test takers, does not target student’s learned skills, and most importantly wraps our education to be test-oriented and only care about letter grade not how well we understand. Excellent question to get feedback from our students. Our students want to learn and our teachers want to teach and assess students’ growth if we are freed from so many state-wide testing.


  38. Sonya Cole says:

    “Students Answer Questions About Grading” shows students are more aware than we sometimes think. Most students mentioned something to Lexie’s statement, “sometimes a grade doesn’t reflect
    the students learning/understanding of the topic.” This comment really reflects how even students recognize that their knowledge does not necessarily correlate with their grades. This is whether it is students without the skills receiving inflated grades or students who know the material, but for some reason their grades do not reflect this knowledge. This is also evident in the SBAC scatter plot listed above.

    In “Grading Policies that Work Against Standards…and How To Fix Them,” Beachwood’s teachers identifying, “if teachers no longer accept substandard work….then students will not submit it.” This is a testament of how moving to grading for skills and knowledge can and will motivate students to take ownership of their own learning. This is how K-12 grading practices should be, and mastery grading and learning is a tool to guide teachers and students in ensuring that students are reaching true mastery and learning.


  39. Sharlene Martinez says:

    Read one or more of the resources above. In the comments section below, cite textual evidence and explain “what might be some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices?”

    “A History of Grading” is a great article that states in 1913 I.E. Finkelstein offered the following, ” School Administrators have been using with confidence an absolutely uncalibrated instrument … What faults appear in the marking system that we are now using, and how can these be avoided or minimized?” Year after year scholars tried to perfect a grading system and found faults after this. The problem with what became a “traditional K-12 grading practice” is that it was never calibrated properly and went through many trial and errors without finding a grading system that truly makes sense.


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