4 Myths About Modern Grading and Assessment Practices

Modern grading values accuracy of evidence and learner confidence when reporting grades. Regardless of the type of grading system, keeping in mind the intended outcomes when designing assessments, calculating scores, and reporting summary grades is crucial to honoring the first value. The second value is simpler yet harder. To support learner confidence, ask yourself what's more important: your own compliance to a system or tracking student achievement reletive to mastery of standards. 

The following includes common misconceptions about modern grading practices. Click or touch the links to gain more perspectives from a variety of sources.    

1. Kids are not learning responsibility.

Grades are not the best way to learn responsibility. The things that motivate us are not large sums of money, all the candy in the world, or bad grades.These are all secondary to the real motivation that fills us with a pull forward to a stronger sense of purpose. Not letting students fall into the bad grade rabbit hole, which is often impossible for some to climb out of, is hard work for teachers if they have never taken steps in the direction of providing opportunities that aren't as devoid of meaning as zeros or point penalties. Help students develop, as Daniel Pink puts it, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. 


Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

2. This isn't how the "real world" works.

When I worked in the "real world" (because I don't, anymore), I had to fix the work that was not to the standard. The feedback that I got was crucial to my success, just as the feedback teachers need to provide is to the success of every learner in the classroom.

Retaking the bar exam, like many professional exams (including teacher certification), is not only a possibility, it's common enough to generate a supply of blog posts with suggestions on how to better prepare. This one starts with getting your head in the game.   

3. The old way worked for us, why change?

The old way didn't work. It worked for us, the winners of the education game. But it didn't work, and still doesn't, for the kids who dropped out, failed, or passed because they were compliant yet learned very little to be marketable in post-secondary life or successful in college.

Garnet Hillman says it best in this blog post (check out the comments, too). Why Should I Change How I Grade?

4. Colleges disagree with these practices. 

According to a 2004 report by ACT, college retention is a huge issue, big enough to suggest a long list of non-academic behaviors that are essential for freshman success and ensuring students return for a second year. Apparently, traditional ways are not actually working as well as we would like to tell ourselves.

Why else would MIT want to provide an alternative to help freshman become acclimated with the demands of university? 
MIT Freshman Grading 

This is a shorter update from ACT written in 2007. 
ACT: The Role of Non-Academic Factors in College Readiness and Success