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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1,108 thoughts on “Step 7B: How to Grade for Growth

  1. Andrea Smith says:

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

    A practical change I could make would be to develop rubrics that include growth mindset strategies for instance; a rubric using, effort, thoroughness, creativity, resourcefulness, persistence, & individual progress for assessment; not grading all papers; extra-credit for helping others.

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  2. laurenvaron says:

    After reading the article, I am inspired to make changes to the feedback that I am giving students on their assessments and work. I like the idea of making the standards transparent to students using kid friendly rubrics. Using this rubric I can then give comments to show students areas of improvement and successes. I think this type of feedback will be more valuable to my students then a grade alone.

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  3. Loyda Ramos says:

    Two ideas really inspired me from reading this blog. The first idea of “not yet” is huge! This simple phrase speaks a thousand words to my students. It tells them that they have not yet mastered a skill and that there are steps they need to take in order to learn it. Traditional grading practices is more about “learning a skill” then they are tested on it to see if they understood the skill. A lot of times, students do not do so well on the test and they are left wondering, “am I not smart enough ?” simply because they have not passed the test. Moreover, there is no other opportunity for them to improve and try again.

    The second idea of not grading all assignments is one that I want to implement for next school year. I would like to communicate to my students that they have a space to practice, make mistakes, and practice again. By not giving them a grade on every assignment, some of that pressure comes off. When is is time to give them a formative assessment or a summative assessment, they would have had multiple opportunities to work on a skill through spiraling or something along the sorts.

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  4. San Fernando High - Mettlen says:

    I liked the ideas of grading for mastery and using the language of growth. First I would like to begin to grade for mastery by allowing students multiple opportunities for success and mastery. Second I would like to use the language of growth by explicitly teaching growth mindset and using the language to emphasize what we learned or how we improved in our understanding, rather than just having a score.

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  5. SC HPHS says:

    I would like to incorporate multiple opportunities for mastery into my teaching practice. As a special education teacher with students on the Alternative Curriculum, I understand the concept of ‘multiple opportunities’ to mean a plethora of things. For instance, delivering a lesson using various modalities that will cater to a student’s special needs gives students the opportunities to access the content. According to the article, multiple opportunities emphasize the importance of giving students more than one chance to master a skill. It identifies the importance of going back and reteaching key concepts and skills using a different approach than the initial time. Admittedly, the Alternative Curriculum standards have contributed to my practice of providing students various instructional modalities, but I have yet to learn about how to incorporate multiple opportunities for mastery.

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  6. Shannon smith
    I am willing to try not grading certain assignments and instead giving feedback so students know how to improve their work. I also would like to work on the less labor aspect if things. I have some students that don’t do work but know how to do it and they are often failing all semester and at the end I ignore hw and classwork and miraculously to them they now pass but it wasn’t a miricle they clearly knew the subject so I want to make that reflective all the time but just in the twenty weekgrades.

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  7. LETICIA CALLELA AUSTIN says:

    I would like to try more of using language for growth. I often see students who just give up when they see scores and don’t see much feedback. I really want to take more time to use that language when I give feedback and even in one-to-one sessions.

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  8. Irineo Yanez says:

    I would like to try “Don’t give grades on every assignment”. This is important especially when beginning new subject matter.

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  9. David Garringer says:

    In the article “Grading for Growth in a High-Stakes World” the author discusses 7 key aspects to grading for growth. One that especially resonates is Dispel the Mystery. In the article she emphasis the uses of rubrics in kid-friendly language and exemplars to help them understand and own their learning. A few years ago there was a great emphasis on the use of kid-friendly rubrics and exemplars but I have not seen it emphasized recently. I believe that if a school site reemphasizes them and provides a variety of examples it my reenergize the use of these. For something to become a “culture” it must be emphasized consistently.

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  10. Shannon smith
    I would like to try letting students take an assessment when ready not on a scheduled date where everyone has to be ready at the same time

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  11. M. Seestedt 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.

    As I read the article, I noticed that I already practice some of the suggestions mentioned. However, there were some tips that are very helpful and I am going to use. One change I want to use in my classroom is creating multiple opportunities for mastery.

    I need to work on, “returning to key concepts and skills over the course of a term or course. This offers students who struggle with a concept in the beginning more learning opportunities and additional chances to demonstrate mastery. And it also helps the students who initially performed well, because it reinforces what they learned and ensures that it will make its way into long­term memory.” Currently I teach a specific standard for a week and sometimes we never touch it again. This doesn’t allow an opportunity for a student, that didn’t understand it, to master it later.

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  12. Brenda Casanova says:

    One specific thing I would like to work on in my classroom, is being more transparent about the purpose behind an assignment, assessment, and the standards. I like how the article mentioned that students learn better when they understand what they’re being tested on and why. Furthermore, I would really like to try to make an assessment a learning experience for students. I want to push myself to think of creative opportunities for students to demonstrate how much they have grown and learned about a particular skill or concept. In this way, students are not just memorizing information, but they are demonstrating what they learned and are having fun with it. Most of all, I want to always praise my students and make sure that they know what they have improved on individually and collectively. One of the patterns I am noticing amongst these articles, is that people succeed when they are praised and loved.Therefore, I am going to make sure that I am consistently praising my students for all the effort and energy they bring to the classroom.

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  13. ISELA DE LA TORRE says:

    I think one practical change I am inspired to make is the use of the language of growth at every possible opportunity. I think that incorporating that language into all elements of my instruction will change the overall perception of why we’re doing this work and I think it will begin to help the kids see that it is ultimately about their learning and it’s not always just about the grade. I also want to eliminate the grading of some tasks so that I’m not heavily weighing tasks that are not good indicators of my students’ progress. So, I’ll be more selective about which ones I’ll grade. I also want to be more consistent about providing written and constructive feedback, buy beyond that I want to conference more with my students so I can help them set goals and make plans.

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  14. Rick G says:

    Some good ideas here, including making the standards understandable in student-friendly language. I also find it useful to give some assignments — such as creating a thesis statement— a credit-no credit check with specific feedback, and then ask students to revise. I find that many students readily improve their growth toward mastery under this scenario.

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  15. Sonya Kinsey says:

    In the beginning of the this school year, I would like to begin implementing when grading, the growth mindset language with my class, ” this will help us decide where we need to do more work”, and “let’s see how much we’ve learned”. Also I will implement adding formative feedback instead of a score, using the kid friendly standards based rubrics.

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  16. Sophia Kang 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.

    Some implementations that I would like to make in my class are:
    Using the language of growth mindset for essays and not including scores for my students’ essays on a separate page after the rubric. Before I assign any work, I’ll think about what I would like to grade and not grade while at the same time making the expectations of the assignment extremely clear for my students.

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  17. Noe Solares says:

    Looking at the mastery for grading approach, I need to evaluate not only how I decide the grades buy also how I do the tests. On element that I will be adding to the tests, is that they need to produce something; a dialogue, a paragraph or a sentence.

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  18. Susan Enman 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.

    I am going to be changing my rubrics to kid friendly language, and simplifying them. Based in this blog, I can see that many times my criterion may be far to complex, even with the verbal explanation that I give. Additionally, I may have too many categories that don’t allow for different levels of mastery.
    I am more convinced than ever that previous rubrics did not encourage a growth mindset and don’t clearly express learning goals.I need to be clearer on ‘what they are learning and why.’

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  19. Angelique McNiff says:

    Last year I began my AP class discussing in detail how this is a skills class and that the students are here to develop skills. Then, after the first assignment I gave the students the opportunity to fix the first assignment until they earned full credit by demonstrating mastery of the skill. In the end, only about 20 percent of the students kept working at the first assignment until it was mastered. An additional 3 percent wanted to fix it at the end of the semester to earn the points to get a higher grade in the class. I had the concept of growth mindset but the methodology failed. I can see how the concept of giving comments on assignments that show the student show to improve but not putting grades or scores on it might work for initial assignments in my course. In the article it also discusses incompletes and requiring them to finish an assignment – this is a concept worth exploring further but undoubtedly will be difficult with district mandates toward grading.

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  20. STEPHANIE MIRANDA says:

    One specific practical change I’d make in grading for this next school year is to build in the multiple opportunities for mastery. This is already more important in a special education classroom because students’ recall abilities are impaired and so having a spiral curriculum and assessments allows students multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery, reinforces skills and strategies, and is more effective than cramming and moving on.

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  21. Jenny Burman says:

    I will be actively teaching growth mindset in my classroom. I will work with my grade level team to wrap the instruction in all classes. In my science class we can use the data from the videos to understand graphs and we can use the messages to make sure that students are wrestling with their own ideas of intelligence.

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  22. Maria E. Guzman says:

    This article was very valuable for me because it is practical. I felt validated in some of the examples I read about like the one that stated the importance of writing a comment on a student’s test. However, I learned that such positive comments should not include a grade because students might ignore the comment when they are focused on the letter grade.

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  23. Allison Conant says:

    There is information in here that I’d like to share w/ colleagues and see if we can come up with some ideas together. It all makes total sense to me, but as the year starts to roll along and things get hectic I know that I start to fall into old habits. Ideally this is the kind of classroom culture that I want to encourage and I know that I need policies in order that will ensure that it happens — I can’t just leave it to chance or let it be something that I start the year with and then get off track on — that happens to me so much as a teacher and it’s something that I want to improve on.

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  24. Stefnie Evans says:

    I liked the notion of holding off on grading things until students have had time to understand and learn, and in lieu of that to give other kinds of incentives that foster other important aspects of the learning process. I was looking for sometime of incentive for my students, and I think I may have a student of the week per class, or something that acknowledges the learning journey the students are going through.

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  25. AmberK says:

    This was a very interesting article and I feel like I have read it before. I practice many of the suggestions mentioned in this article, but two areas I will look to improve would be creating the learning targets to make sure my grades are effectively standards based. The second is work on the principle of “Not Yet.” One way to do this is to build in spiral curriculum and assessment, returning to key concepts and skills over the course of a term or course. This offers students who struggle with a concept in the beginning more learning opportunities and additional chances to demonstrate mastery. And it also helps the students who initially performed well, because it reinforces what they learned and ensures that it will make its way into long­-term memory. Within these learning targets making sure I have multiple ways for students to show mastery.

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  26. Shareen Gochoel says:

    I have many plans for next years grading practices. I plan to grade for learning not labor and to create multiple opportunities for mastery. I plan on giving many options and many formative assessments so students can see where they need more work. After taking the formative assessment they can choose to move forward or continue learning and retake the formative assessment until they are ready for the next step. There are so many more things I plan on doing! It’s very exciting!

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  27. Michael Dang says:

    One of the practices that I want to implement is using the language for growth. Even if I figure out how I want to implement a structure of mastery learning and growth in my class, it is important that I understand how I can communicate it to the students every day. This can prove particularly difficult since I have been accustomed to traditional grading for most of my life and thus my mental habits are similar. To truly embrace mastery learning and grading means to replace old habits with new ones particularly in thought and speech. While I understand that it is a process, I must be able to communicate and teach this mindset of learning to my students as well.

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  28. Jennifer Bower says:

    The first practical change is to offer multiple opportunities for mastery. (Multiple formative assessments prior to summative assessment.) The second practical shift towards growth mindset is the use of standards-based rubrics and student self-assessment using the rubric. Self-directed learning, self-directed correction and self-directed mastery…

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  29. C Bakewell says:

    I like the advice to keep the score and written feedback separate. I was thinking that when I have students write drafts, I’ll tell them that I’ll only give written feedback the on first one or two drafts with a small rubric attached. The third draft can be the one that is scored and only on the specific few items practiced. I could also have the students self-score before I give my assessment.

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  30. Shauna Segal says:

    I agree about rubrics and exemplars. For example, when writing learning targets with assessments for middle school Math for the district with a team of teachers this past school year, we started with a general rubric that was made more specific for each learning target with a series of “I can” statements. After assessing real students we can start to select authentic exemplars, which is a strategy applied in my classroom that I find to be very effective. Even so, these assessments could be used as summative, although I allow my students two attempts with feedback between and create a part two assessment if necessary. As a result, providing explicit formative opportunities leading to the learning target assessment is necessary as well.

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  31. Lucrecia Apanay says:

    I will incorporate the language of growth when assessing: “This will help us decide where we need to do more work”, and “Let’s see how much we’ve learned”.

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  32. David Garringer says:

    Tips on grading for a Growth Mindset: This will require significant planning on the teachers and a definite shift in their view point in grading. It has been instilled over years, the basic grading system, and this is significant new and meaningful learnings. I have witnessed students who give up too easily, there maybe many reasons but if they could understand how to make their work better and be given multiple opportunities to show their learnings it could greatly improve their outlook on many items including school.

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  33. Alison Gillis says:

    One specific change I will make is giving comments and feedback rather than a score. Students will then have to actually look at what they did well and what they need to improve on. To make this easier, I want to create and find detailed rubrics that show exactly what skills are being assessed and how the student can become stronger in each one.

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  34. I am going to give assignments that I comment but don’t score, particularly while in the early stages of teaching a concept. This will actually be a win-win because students who don’t yet understand the concept will get more personalized guidance and I won’t have to assign poor scores to students who haven’t had enough time to master the concept.

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  35. Sonya Cole says:

    One specific change I will make to an assignment is giving multiple opportunities for mastery. I believe this will be the most challenging for me because of the time restraints we have on teaching all of the standards. I am going to make this my focus for the upcoming school year, and am excited about seeing the change in students academically but also mentally when they realize they can do it!

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  36. Ronald Arreola says:

    As I mentioned on an earlier comment, I am going to refrain from putting a score on the assignments that are building to something but instead just give them comments that will help them to improve.

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  37. Liam says:

    As a result of this article, I look forward to offering feedback on assignments that will earn no score. This encourages students to value feedback and mastery separate from a point award.

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  38. KRISTY LEE says:

    I want to implement multiple opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate mastery of key concepts. In my current practice, I try to revisit and have student practice key concepts, but I don’t reassess them. I will try to provide multiple assessment opportunities for student to show mastery and be mindful of the “Not Yet” principle when grading students.

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  39. Mersedeh Vahdat says:

    Creating multiple opportunities for mastery will help students to realize that making mistakes is an important step in learning challenging concepts or ideas. It encourages students to view assessment as formative feedback; it’s simply tells student how well student has met learning goals. It’s informative and motivating without judgements or punishments or shame. It also promotes deeper understanding of what they have learned. Hopefully we have time to discuss with students the importance of taking advantage of multiple opportunities to practice and make it a habit in life. If we give up easily or be content with minimum understanding, then we will lose many great opportunities in life later on. Students love to discuss real life situations! It makes the learning environment more nurturing and welcoming for students and teachers!

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