Step 7B: How to Grade for Growth

Grading for Growth in a High-Stakes World: This short blog post from the Mindset Works website provides an overview of classroom practices that help students to develop a growth mindset view of feedback and grades.

After reading the article and a selection of comments posted by other educators, share one specific, practical change you are inspired to make to a grading or assessment practice you currently use.

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765 thoughts on “Step 7B: How to Grade for Growth

  1. Mark Linley says:

    As a kindergarten teacher, I know that grades are not at the forefront of my students’ minds. Grades for most children of this age I would say are not a motivating factor. I like the suggestion in the article that says to frame assessments like so: “This will help us decide where we need to do more work” and “Lets see how much we’ve learned.” This is a clear practical change I can make to help foster a growth mindset in my students.

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  2. Cris says:

    One change I would or will make is giving the students more opportunities to master the skills or standards being taught. I would even go as far as to review the skill or standard. I know that to grade every assignment is impossible. So, I don’t grade every assignment. Sometimes, I realize that a student will master a skill on a practice assignment, but when it comes time for a graded assignment and they don’t do well, I would look at the skill assessed to see if it can be made easier for them or look at the non graded assignment to see if that would be the assignment I would grade.

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  3. Harmony4681 says:

    I enjoyed reading the blog “Grading for Growth in a High-Stakes World”. One specific change I intend to do is to use the language of growth. I plan to use it throughout the day. I plan to provide formative feedback to my students and make it explicit. I need to improve on monitoring their progress consistently. I will praise students more often for the strategies that they are implementing to improve in the area of need. My focus will be on their process of learning instead of my evaluation of their performance during this process.

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  4. Harmony mhc says:

    I am inspired to provide more written feedback on assignments without a grade attached. The article states that “Written feedback from teachers is a much more effective learning aid than a grade.”

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  5. Harmony072004 says:

    One practical, specific change I plan to incorporate in my grading system is provide my students with multiple opportunities for mastery. I need to understand that “students don’t all start with the same knowledge base or learn at the same pace, and one­shot assessments can demoralize those who need more time. Nothing is more discouraging to effort and persistence than knowing there’s no chance to recover—it’s an invitation to helplessness.” I need to work on the principle of “Not Yet.” I need to encourage my students more often that even though they might not understand the concept quite yet, they will be able to understand it on their own pace through hard work and dedication. I’m also planning on continuing using kid-friendly rubrics that students help develop in order to take ownership of their learning.

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  6. One specific, practical change I am inspired to make is to improve on the feedback but not only on tests but throughout the day in verbal and written form. I need to make the time to write comments on assignments that will encourage students to learn from their errors, foster academic growth and support their self confidence.

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  7. Harmony14 says:

    After reading he article, one change I am inspired to make is to not grade every assignment. I often feel like everything needs to be graded because I need to provide evidence for a student’s progress. This can take away the pleasure of learning for the students because they are constantly under pressure to perform well instead of being allowed to grow and master a standard/topic over time and with multiple opportunities for practice.

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  8. Harmony Figueroa says:

    I do like the idea of giving feedback instead grading every assignment or assessment. I see how giving written feedback, specific feedback, could foster academic growth in students, be more meaningful to students and parents, as well as boost student’s confidence.

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  9. msmartinez says:

    One specific, practical change that I’m inspired to make to a grading practice is to provide written feedback without the score. Students generally look at a score and don’t seem to care why they earned what they did. I think that providing specific written feedback and leaving out the grade will be welcomed by students. This strategy reflects a risk-tolerant classroom because it allows students to ask questions if still unclear after the feedback, and make it easier to learn from their mistakes.

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  10. Ron says:

    The take home for me was the use of rubrics so that the expectations and exemplars are made very clear for students. Making assessments a learning experience, and creating multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery.

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  11. Marquez Randy says:

    As a Kindergarten teacher, I rely heavily on specific feedback over grades. Based on the information in this blog, I think it’s also a good idea to provide multiple opportunities and paths for my young students to demonstrate mastery and to include spiral learning that will allow them to truly build on what they know and/or learn.

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  12. Harmony123 says:

    I totally agree with this article creating a risk tolerant classroom will promote a growth mindset classroom environment. It will empower students as mentioned in the article to seek challenges as well as to become more willing to to take risk without being afraid of making mistakes. I would like to make my classroom a risk tolerant classroom and coupled with “multiple opportunities for mastery” which will likely ensure that the students have the confidence to improve while they master the skills needed to succeed. I also like the idea of stating the rubrics in kid friendly language and not giving a grade in every assignment. I feel this practice will promote the idea that the students are learning for the love of learning and not for the fear of getting a bad grade

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  13. armando sanchez says:

    Feedback, especially written feedback is something that i truly need to focus on. I simply collect the work and that is the last time they see it. I need to be more proactive in providing the feedback and in a timely manner. Moreover, mistakes are welcome in my class, however, if its a “right there” answer which they can see on the board or on their paper and we have gone through it numerous times, then those mistakes are not as welcomed.

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  14. Catherine says:

    Don’t give grades on every assignment. This is one thing I’m working on, especially in writing. It’s easier for me to give feedback with smaller pieces of writing samples, especially with the very large class I have this year. I can give students written feedback more frequently, and I can look at writing samples over time to see growth in writing. Students know they need to turn in their writing, but they don’t know when or what I’ll be looking for specifically, so this helps keep them focused. I also organize their writing so I can look for growth in writing over the school year.

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  15. Rachel says:

    “Dispel the Mystery” is something I am going to start practicing because students should have the standards and clear expectations of what they need to learn. When people go to college, they get syllabus’ and rubrics that explain exactly what you need to complete to pass the class. Why can’t high school and all grade level practice this strategy? Providing students the opportunity to self reflect why the already know and what they need to know is a skill that all students need to learn how to do.

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  16. Mr. Salinas says:

    A couple of things that stood out for me in this article is “Don’t give grades on every assignments,” the importance of “feedback” and provide “multiple opportunities for mastery.” At this point, I will put in place right way the strategy to not grade everything. Any student could have a bad day just like a teacher and they should not be penalize. Another strategy would be provide multiple opportunities because we have a very diverse population of students and “one size does not fit all.”

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  17. Lin says:

    I like the idea that don’t grade every single assessment. and make the assessment students’ learning experience. As soon as we see their progress and effort, we should make sound judgment about their mastery of some learning targets.

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  18. Katheryne Martinez says:

    One of the changes I will consider making is to not give a grade on every assignment. I will give students feedback on a specific skill that they need to improve and give them another chance to advance and prove to themselves that they can do it.

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  19. Veronica Lopez says:

    I plan to give feedback to students on how they can improve without giving a grade therefore students will be inclined to make the modification on their assignments.

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  20. Lyda Lara says:

    I have decided to give them a “Not Yet” grade as compared to a Fail or D and students seem to want to get to do the task again. I am also implementing rubrics that are more clear and students can self-reflect on it.

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  21. Elena Macias says:

    This article encouraged me to survey my students on the skills they feel they first need to develop in order to complete an assessment (in my class, this may be an essay). Making a “need to know” list with my students, not only provides a game plan for them, but also helps drive my lesson planning.

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  22. Lorena says:

    I think the point of learning is content mastery, period, and so the grading should reflect that. I think it prepares students well for life beyond school. The focus is not on the work, but on whether or not the student understood what I am teaching. The revision isn’t just reworking previously submitted assignments for the assignment’s sake, it’s giving the students another chance to prove that they “get” the material.

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  23. Bronda Everett says:

    One of the changes that I will consider making is getting my students to buy into prescriptive grading with feedback. I remember thinking to myself how important prescriptive feedback is. I took the time to provide all of my students with this kind of feedback which takes a lot of time and consideration. However, most of the students who could really benefit from the feedback only paid attention to the final grade and provided little or no response to the feedback at all. I think it is important to let the students know before the grading process that apart of their grade is to respond to the feedback.

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  24. Nancy Gonzalez says:

    A change I would consider would be not giving a grade on every assignment. If students are given grades only, students have a fixed mindset where they are not looking for improvement and mastery of a skill. I will give students feedback on improving a specific scientific skill instead of assigning points to an assignment. Hopefully this will create a learning environment where students will want to improve instead of just looking at a grade.

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  25. J Johnson says:

    Grading for growth in a high stakes world. The fixed mindset You set in your ways. They feel the skills you have your born with it. The growth mindset will give feedback this will tell the students lf they meet the learning goal. I will use in my class use the language of growth, giving the students positive feedback to encourage the children to never give up.

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  26. Mr. L says:

    I thought the idea for a low-stakes learning period quite inspiring. How to construct this though seems problematic given the need to have a minimum of measurable items in the grade book each week. Additionally, the idea of grading for learning rather than labor resonated strongly with me. Often I have just asked that students complete the assignment, rather than assessing how well they have processed or produced knowledge.

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  27. O Rodriguez says:

    According to the article, feedback is more important than grades. One way that I can apply this in my classroom, is to give students a formative assessment and not grade it. Although students will want to know their grade, it will only be used to inform them of their progress. I can give feedback by discussing common mistakes/misconceptions that came up in the assessment with the entire class.

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  28. Frank Aguilar says:

    The practical change that I’ll work on is to simply have a rubric for most if not all of my assignments. If students are clear on what targets they need to hit, then perhaps they can work towards that and focus on only that, as opposed to have several things going at once. The more input and clarifications are given in the beginning, the more successful they will be by the end of a unit.

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  29. Lynn Marie Mierzejewski says:

    After reading the article and a selection of comments posted by other educators, share one specific, practical change you are inspired to make to a grading or assessment practice you currently use.

    Instead of just one specific, practical change that I am inspired to make to the grading or assessment process that I currently use after reading this article, there are several. I will create multiple opportunities for students to display their mastery of a subject content area skill or knowledge. I also will give the students more opportunities to learn from assessments by using them as a teaching tool. Lastly, I will make the rubrics for assessments more transparent and kid-friendly. I will continue to provide the students with an encouraging learning environment that is fun and optimistic while teaching them that it is okay to make a mistake, as long as they try to learn from it and grow. The most important thing is to help students not to be fearful of the learning process, but, instead, to teach them how to be comfortable with learning new things. Building a student’s self-esteem and self-confidence is just as important as building their academic knowledge, which go hand-in-hand with one another.

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  30. Lupe Jimenez says:

    Q: Share one specific, practical change you are inspired to make to a grading or assessment practice you currently use.

    This is it!! “Use the language of growth.” Frame tests as formative feedback for both you and your students (“This will help us decide where we need to do more work”) and as measures of progress (“Let’s see how much we’ve learned”). Praise students for their strategies and improvement, not for perfect performance, to focus them on their learning process rather than your evaluation.

    Recall questions such as multiple choice questions would not meet the growth mindset criteria. Our assessments would need to be authentic opportunities for students to demonstrate what they really know and the “strategy” their brain uses to solve problems.

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  31. Adriana Gomez says:

    I LOVED this article! I definitely need to make everything more transparent. I need to make my grading scale so transparent, students can predict their own grade while they are working on the assignment.

    Also, I love the mentioning of video games. Dan Meyer said the same thing about our students and the game Angry Birds. Did you know that the time that people spent playing Angry Birds could have been used to build ELEVEN PANAMA CANALS!? A clear beginning and a clear end with no set middle can inspire students to be creative.

    I think I’m doing a decent job at not being a 1-time shot teacher (You only get 1 shot at this assignment), but I need more students to take me up on the offer to redo assignments they didn’t do so well in.

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  32. FT Barbara M. says:

    The blog/article is something I can share. It provides easy talking points; outlining the topic of grading for growth with seven points; dispel the mystery, don’t give grades on every assignment, the word is more powerful than the score (but only if you keep them apart), make assessment a learning experience, grade for learning not for labor, create multiple opportunities for learning, and use the language of growth. Thinking and talking with colleagues about assessment practices and how they influence students’ mindset is essential.

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  33. FT Lyn Almustafa says:

    I am inspired to use the language of growth. Modeling, teaching and recognizing growth mindset in action, makes learning clear for my students. Using statements like “This will help us decide where we need to do more work” or Lets see how much we’ve learned” can produce a paradigm shift for all students to understand that grading will no longer be in points, but in what you know!

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  34. Andres Reconco says:

    Like I said in a previous response, all of these changes I’ve already begun to make in my classroom. I’m at a stage where I’m now tweaking what I’m doing to make it a more efficient process. One of the things I want to get better at is on being able to create multiple opportunities for mastery in my students. This is a challenge for me at the moment because of time constraints.

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  35. FTRoberto says:

    I am making a major effort in ensuring that rubrics and expectations are presented in a student-friendly format. If they students do not understand what is expected of them, then any task will be futile and a waste of time to them. As the article states, it is important to “Make standards transparent. Use rubrics in kid­ friendly language and exemplars to help them understand and own their learning goals.” This made me realize that although we may utilize rubrics for major projects, if the student does not apply the rubric, due to the rubric not being clear and concise, the rubric is useless. It is also important to understand that using the traditional grading scale with our rubrics may not inform the student of areas of improvement, however, once again, simply a score that will have an impact on their final grade, and not their mastery of skills.

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  36. Barbara L Politz says:

    Based on the comment in the article that, “Nothing is more discouraging to effort and persistence than knowing there’s no chance to recover—it’s an invitation to helplessness”, I will help my teachers clearly identify their standards and develop strategies to measure proficiency on those standards. This process will require multiple ways for students to demonstrate their mastery, throwing out the practice and failed attempts at mastery.

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  37. FT Deborah says:

    I really liked this because the ideas were specific and totally attainable. I think I am going to work on #3 written feedback without the grade. I like rubrics on everything, but perhaps feedback on how the work can improve sounds like it would be more helpful.

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  38. FT Sharon James says:

    I use a lot of specific feedback and rubrics, but have always tied it to a grade. It would be interesting to see how that feedback would be received if it were not tied to a grade. I definitely need to try this.

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  39. FT 49th/ Claudia says:

    I enjoyed reading this article and agree with strategies given such as having transparency with students when it comes to standards and rubrics that are kid friendly. Being clear I thought was important in order to create the expectations we want students to reach. Not grading every assignment was also something I agree with and like the thought of creating a safe space. Creating multiple opportunities for mastery allows students to build and reinforce their assignments. Multiple assignments would allow enough time to practice what is expected from them.

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  40. FT Terry says:

    Making it all transparent …what the standards mean and what a student needs to show mastery. Adding rubrics/proficiency scales allows the student to self-assess.

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  41. B. Gonzalez says:

    I would like to create a risk-tolerant learning environment for my classroom by being more specific on my feedback, and using the language of growth to encourage a growth mindset.

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  42. FT Armando says:

    I would like to improve on the feedback that I give my students. Often, I neglect to take the time to write comments on assignments because of time constraints.

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  43. FT - Nazeli says:

    I am inspired to change my grading system and use the 1-4 rubric. By using a 4 point scale and providing a rubric for students to follow, they will become more aware on the areas they need to improve in.

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  44. I am inspired to use rubric based grading. I think this will help provide positive and constructive feedback. If students would like to re-do an assignment, a rubric based grading system would communicate learning targets to students.

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  45. FT Rachel Oh says:

    I’d like to work on the feedback I give my students to help them grow. Rather than the “good job” comments, I believe it would be more meaningful to give feedback pertaining to the standards.

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  46. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the articles and listening to all the videos in this series — lots to learn and consider. The quote below is an obvious statement to me, one that all teachers have realized for a long time — or we hope so.

    “Students don’t all start with the same knowledge base or learn at the same pace, and one-shot assessments can demoralize those who need more time.”

    This has been no more apparent than this year, where students in the honors program are all over the map; and students in gen ed seem to be learning disabled through brilliant. Teachers work so hard in the first few weeks assessing what we have in our classroom for the year — not assessing how to move the class forward as a group, but assessing how to move each student forward in their own learning and development. This is a huge job for a teacher with over 110 students!

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  47. Rosy says:

    This article mentions all the things that an educator should be doing in order to support student learning. One of the things that I learned early in my career is that I didn’t have to grade every assignment, especially in the beginning of a new lesson/unit. The more input and clarifications are given in the beginning, the more successful they will be by the end of a unit. With that, rubrics should always be a part of an assignment. Often times students wondered why they were receiving that specific grade and never really getting an answer. If we don’t provide these things, how can we expect a student to be successful?

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  48. millerihp6 says:

    I enjoyed this article, and I think I do utilize many of these strategies already in my classroom. But when I read the article, there were some issues that did emerge:

    1) “Students who have learned the key content shouldn’t be penalized for a missed assignment with a poor grade.” (in #5)

    I do not just disagree; I fervently disagree! What happened to the idea of differentiation? Is our maximum goal as educators really simply grade level success?Does this mean that if my class has mastered grade level standards, the teacher and the class no longer need to come to school? And what happened to the idea of teaching responsibility? If my kids do well on an exam, should I plan to show movies for the following week since I do not have to worry about reteaching and remediation so slacking off on my job is no big deal? This is the same B-S that causes GATE kids to be prone to a fixed mindset mentality: “I get it so I don’t have to do any work.” Shame on you!

    2) “One way to do this is to build spiral curriculum and assessment, returning to key concepts and skills over the course of a term or a course. This offers students who struggle with a concept in the beginning more learning opportunities and additional chances to demonstrate master . . . Research has shown that distributed practice over longer intervals is much more effective in ensuring deep learning than short-term “cramming” followed by assessment.” (#6)

    This is partially true. I have taken many hours of neuro-educational training, and two important points were ignored in this quote: a) The rehearsal/practice must be elaborative to be effective; in other words it must be increasingly neuro-cognitively complex and difficult, and b) Students who are asked to practice skills they have already mastered not only do not improve; they actually regress. So while we are spiraling for the learners who did not absorb it fully; making the ones who did continue practicing with yet more of the same type of practice actually causes their skills to decline.

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