Opinion
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Students Deserve Discussion of Teachers’ Grading Practices

August 26, 2014 1 min read

To the Editor:

It was with great interest that I read how Greg Jouriles and his faculty colleagues are addressing their “grading differences” and teachers’ “different conceptions of achievement” through development of standards-aligned rubrics, common performance tasks, and calibration (“We Don’t Need Standardized Tests. Here’s Why,” Commentary, July 9, 2014).

As a former high school teacher, principal, and district administrator, I applaud Mr. Jouriles and his peers for addressing their grades, a discussion that teachers can unfortunately interpret as a challenge to their professional autonomy and judgment. It was not until I became a consultant for schools and districts seeking to improve their grading and assessment that I understood and appreciated this reaction.

First, teachers’ grades don’t just vary because of different conceptions of achievement. In addition to describing academic achievement, grades are usually a hodgepodge of evaluative information that incorporates student behaviors, attendance, participation, and subjective perceptions of student effort, growth, and attitude. But a teacher’s grading system is more than the sum of its parts. I have seen teachers use grades to incentivize or punish students, to distribute power or assert authority, to give students agency or make learning opaque, and to build classroom community or encourage cutthroat competition.

These competing ideas about the role of a teacher and what makes for effective teaching and learning make the conversation about grading even more difficult. And yet teachers have rarely had the preparation or permission to examine grading in all of its complexity; grading is generally not addressed in preservice training or school-embedded professional development. However, I have worked with teachers who, when given supports and opportunities for honest reflection, pursue strategies to make their grading more fair, accurate, supportive of learning, and consistent across classrooms. As challenging and unfamiliar as it may be, it is the discussion that we and our students deserve.

Joe Feldman

Chief Executive Officer
Crescendo Education Group
Oakland, Calif.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the August 27, 2014 edition of Education Week as Students Deserve Discussion Of Teachers’ Grading Practices

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Embracing Student Engagement: The Pathway to Post-Pandemic Learning
As schools emerge from remote learning, educators are understandably worried about content and skills that students would otherwise have learned under normal circumstances. This raises the very real possibility that children will face endless hours
Content provided by Newsela

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers Walk Off the Job at Chicago’s Urban Prep
With just two weeks left to the school year, teachers went on strike over what they say is a lack of support for special education students.
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
Images shows hand drawn group of protestors.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion Compassion Fatigue Is Overwhelming Educators During the Pandemic
Educators need acknowledgment and healing while dealing with their own and others' grief. Here’s what administrators can do to help.
Shayla Ewing
5 min read
Illustration of empty shirt and cloud
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Teaching Profession Is It Time to Relax Teacher Dress Codes?
After teaching at home in comfortable clothes, some school and district leaders support casual attire for teachers returning to classrooms.
4 min read
Illustration of clothes on hangers
Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I Started Teaching During the Pandemic. Here's What I Learned
What’s it like launching a teaching career over Zoom? Kindergarten teacher Alicia Simba reflects on an unusual first year in the profession.
Alicia Simba
4 min read
Illustration of paper figures connected in a line.
JamesBrey/E+