Grading Policies

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Brendan, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 11, 2009

    Every year I re-evaluate my grading policies and each year I usually make some changes to them. I always gain alot from listening to other's grading policies and reasoning behind their policies. So please share.

    My grading policies for my Freshman Honors Class this year:
    35%: Tests
    25%: Quizzes
    20%: Classwork and In-class Projects
    20%: Homework

    I felt that this placed enough emphasis on my tests (typically they had 3-5 test grades per term), but also emphasized that their in-class activities and homework is important. However with this policy I had trouble deciding where projects should go.

    For next year:
    60%: Assesments (Tests and Quizzes)
    40%: Assignments (Homework and Classwork)

    If I choose to go this way I will grade based upon total points earned/total within each catergory. Meaning in the assesment catergory, tests will be around 100 points and quizzes 30-50 points. Projects could be in either of the two catergories depending on their purpose. If the project is to culminate a unit or a section of a unit it may be an assesment, however if ithe project is a skit teaching them for example the principles of a renassiance man, it would be an assignment grade.
     
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  3. MrsTeacher2Be

    MrsTeacher2Be Companion

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    My grading policy is dictated by my department chair, and I'm not a fan.

    Homework 8%
    Classwork 12%
    Weekly Tests 40%
    Unit Tests 20% (we're required to give a cumulative test every 3 weeks)
    Exam 20%

    So a whopping 80% of my grades come from tests! I definitely think either of your grading policies are much better! I really like the assessment/assignment break down. It seems like it would make life much easier.
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    That is terrible.
     
  5. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jun 11, 2009

    This year I had:
    Essays/tests/projects = 65%
    Homework/classwork/quizzes = 35%
    Next year I'm moving to:
    Essays/tests/projects = 60%
    Homework/classwork/quizzes = 25%
    Participation = 15%

    That's largely a reaction to the very high numbers of absences, truancies, and tardies I had this year. I'm going to give a super-easy, one-question quiz as soon as the bell rings, and that point will go toward participation. If you're not in your seat, you don't get it. I'm tired of my students missing so much class!
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Mrs. K. would a classwork grade be worth a 100 points and would a quiz grade be worth the same?
     
  7. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Generally not. Even though I'm using weighted categories, the most points I'll assign to a test or essay is usually 100, except for the first semester final, which is 200. I also give tests in the 30-45 point range. Most quizzes are 20-25 points at most, with classwork the same.
     
  8. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 11, 2009

    How about homework?
     
  9. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    I can't stand collecting homework - I have nearly 180 students, and I'd be drowning in paper! I usually assign vocabulary that my students complete in a composition notebook. I walk around the room and stamp their work with a blue check for acceptable work and a red thumbs down if it's missing - I stamp the page it should have been on, and if a student makes it up, I re-stamp it with the blue. Every few weeks I collect the notebooks, review the work, and give an overall grade of a check, a check +, or a check -. A check is full credit, 10 points. Check + is given for exceptionally neat and complete work, and it's 11 points, so that's a 10% bonus. A check - is 8 points the first time I check them, 7 points the second time, etc. A kid who doesn't get their act together is going to get dinged more severely every time.

    I actually give very little homework that isn't reading, and my students are usually working on a long-term written assignment as well.
     
  10. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Interesting. I collect and grade everything, so low point values are a challenge.
     
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 11, 2009

    Anyone else?
     
  12. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jun 12, 2009

    This year I used:
    Tests/Quizzes: 40%
    Homework: 20%
    Classwork: 20%
    Final Exam: 20%

    I'm changing mine this coming year, likely to:
    Tests/Quizzes: 40%
    Assignments: 20%
    Reading/Vocabulary Homework: 10%
    Participation: 10%
    Final Exam: 20%

    Obviously, I've broken things down a LOT more. Participation I added because so many kids are tardy, unprepared, etc. So they will start with 100% in this category, and lose points each time they are tardy, unprepared, etc. A truancy will result in an automatic 50% deduction of that grade.

    I'm also de-emphasizing the reading homework because I can't distribute textbooks (we won't have enough next year). So instead, at 20% is "Assignments"... with each unit students will get 4-5 different assignment options, and have to complete at least 2 of them by a specific date. Things like... "Draw out the Chinese Dynastic Cycle in a graphic organizer, and then in 2-3 paragraphs explain the chart", or "After reading the Epic of Gilgamesh, create your own Flood Story based on the themes and trends seen in ancient Mesopotamia, Judea, and others". Etc.
     
  13. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Jun 12, 2009

    Last year my grades were broken down as follows:

    Tests/Quizzes: 30%
    Labs: 30%
    Projects: 20%
    Homework/classwork: 20%

    I am still debating what adjustments to make with this for next year.

    The year before I used straight points based grading. I liked the weighted grading better, since tests and labs are much more reflective of how well students understand the concepts. I must have been the first teacher who has ever had weighted grades before, since in my honors class I had many students coming to me to complain that when they calculated their grade (straight points) they should have an A, but the gradebook has them at a B+.
     
  14. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Jun 12, 2009

    Here's mine for LA:

    Homework: 10% ( 3xs a week)
    Class work: 10% (daily journal/warm-up)
    Projects/Essays: 25% (essay - 3 per quarter, projects - 2 per quarter)
    Quizzes: 20% (1 per week)
    Tests: 20% (3 per quarter)
    Final Exam: 15% (required by district)

    This balance works for me because a) so many kids blow off journal/homework and I don't want that to be a majority of the grade, b) essays are a HUGE part of my curriculum, and c) I don't want to punish the kids who aren't good test-taker/have test anxiety by making their test % the majority.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Believe it or not, but I actually think that your scale is the best one of the ones presented here! And actually (you're not going to like this), I think that assessments should be worth 90% of the student's overall grade.

    Grades should reflect mastery of content. Practice work, which includes homework and classwork, doesn't accurately show mastery. It just shows that students know how to use the resources available to them. Grades shouldn't reflect effort, organization, attendance, preparation, attitude, citizenship, or homework compliance. They should only reflect mastery of content.

    Teachers determine mastery through assessments. Assessments can be formal or informal and should be given frequently and regularly. They can be papers, projects, presentations, and, yes, tests.

    Furthermore, students should have multiple opportunities for success. The reason most of us are uncomfortable with this sort of grading system (where tests count for so much) is that it's not fair for a student to fail a class due to poor performance on one bad test. Because of that, students should be given at least one opportunity to redo an assessment on which the student didn't perform as well as s/he expected. Students in my class can retake tests and quizzes, provided that they show me evidence that they've studied and prepared.

    I do not give extra credit.

    My grading system looks like:

    10% Practice
    45% Minor assessments
    45% Major assessments

    My system is working out. At the end of the year, I can look at my gradebook and feel completely good about it. This student earned an A because he understands Latin, not because he turned in a whole bunch of extra credit or copied half his assignments or is a good test-taker. That student earned a D because he doesn't understand Latin, plain and simple.

    It can be tough to give a D to a student who tried really hard, but it is what it is. The report card says "Latin" not "Effort in Latin"....To that end, the grade needs to reflect what/whether the student learned.
     
  16. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    My grades do reflect content mastered. All assignments are graded for accuracy and content. Effort points in my class are almost never given. I would say I give effort points for maybe 3 assignmnets in one term. My grades relflect content mastery, not effort.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My concern about your grading system is mainly the 20% Homework part. Homework isn't really content mastery. Students who don't do their homework can absolutely demonstrate mastery by other means. Homework is an opportunity to practice content before having to demonstrate mastery.

    While I want my students to do their homework, they're not being graded on that. Our student populations are probably pretty different, and that might play into it a fair bit. The truth is that many of my students have jobs or care for their younger siblings. Those responsibilities are more important to them and their families than doing homework, regardless of whether I want them to do their homework or not. I just don't think it's fair to penalize a student by two letter grades for not doing homework when that student is just doing what his family needs him to do. And if I'm not going to penalize that student, I can't penalize any other student either.
     
  18. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    For a slightly different perspective... is homework always to practice content? I know mine isn't. My homework has typically been reading assignments (with a few discussion questions attached to the handout) to help prepare for the next class. If the vast majority of students don't do the reading, a class discussion becomes impossible, and thus a grade for homework becomes important for me.
     
  19. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Mine is 80% Summative, 20% Formative, as dictated by the district, and I would prefer it to be 95% summative and 5% formative.
     
  20. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    We don't use percentages. I grade all assignments in 4 categories: Knowledge/understanding, thinking, communication and application (detailed descriptions of these are available on Ontario's Ministry of Education site). We grade on a 4 point scale. So students get level 1, 2, 3 or 4 in each of the 4 categories. I grade a total of 5-8 summative assignments per course. Students are given no grades for homework or classwork. We complete one assignment or test at the end of each unit which focuses on mastery. I'm in agreement with Cassie on this.

    My markbook for an imaginary student would look like this:

    K 3 3- 2+ 3- 3
    T 2+ 2- 2 2+ 2+
    C 3 3 3 3- 3-
    A 3 3 3 3 3

    We are then required to look at most consistent and most recent work.

    So this student's grade would be
    K 3-
    T 2+
    C 3-
    A 3

    This would become a 3- overall. I know I'll get booed out of the Secondary forum, but I'm willing to talk to anyone who is willing to read Ken O'Connor's How to Grade for Learning on why this system rocks.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is precisely why I don't think homework should count for much (or anything at all).

    There are students for whom home time is home time, not an extension of school time. Some families don't allow students to work on homework at home, either indirectly by requiring students to maintain jobs, or directly by expressly telling their kids not to do homework. I've seen both those situations many, many times. Some students are supporting their families and cannot afford to take time away from their work. Other families have strong cultural beliefs that home time is family time. How can the teacher argue with that and penalize a student for either scenario? It's not fair or equitable in any way, if you ask me.

    I'm not saying that my system makes anything any easier. What I'm saying is that my system more accurately reflects mastery of content. And isn't that the point?
     
  22. Druin

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    Jun 12, 2009

    Here's mine..

    60% Assessments (Tests/Quizzes/Major Projects)
    25% Assignments (homework, notebooks, weekly AP problems, daily work, etc)
    15% Semester Final exam

    Some people think that the 25% for assignments is too much, but overall, I like it. It's a high enough percent that they take the daily work seriously, but not high enough to negate low test and quiz scores.
     
  23. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    In my mind it is not practice. We are not practicing learning how to read assignments any more. We are mastering how to read assignments. Often times in History, there is no way to cover my content reading standards other than homework, I do not have time to allow students to read a 25 page chapter from the American Pageant in class, its not manegable.
     
  24. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Not grading homework reading does not mean the teacher doesn't value it, it just means they don't mark it. I value the homework and do expect my students to do it. I check that it is done, but I evaluate at the end of the unit and I evaluate the key standards for the unit. I do this because the research supports that students need more feedback and fewer grades in order to be successful.

    There are those that can explain this much more eloquently than I: Ken O'Connor, Damian Cooper to name 2.

    The problem with grading homework in my mind is this:

    Student 1 - Brilliant - knows the stuff, rebels against doing homework but will go onto work for NASA because s/he is so smart

    Student 2 - Smart - not much of a critical thinker - does homework - is very good at completeling stuff well - great at memorizing

    Student 3 - Does no homework - understands the stuff reasonably well

    Student 4 - Does not have a clue - but works really hard, gets help with homework - tons of support at school etc.

    Assuming their work consistently reflected the characteristics I'm talking about - In my class the grades would be:

    Student 1 - Level 4 - Assuming student 1 does their assignments (those 5-8) and does them well - they get the mark they deserve - I have one student like this - he is in basic French - he was in a French school - he is very unmotivated - but when he does his assignments he blows the expectations out of the water
    Student 2 - Level 3 - My students can work as hard as they want, but they have to show mastery - memorizing isn't going to cut it - nor is fantastic homework - with mommy professor helping - if at the end of the day this student works their tail off to get a 3, they get a 3.
    Student 3 - Level 2 - This student may not truly "get it" (hence why they aren't getting a level 3 which is provincial standard) but even though they don't do their homework or classwork regularly - when they have to do their major assignments, they show a basic understanding
    Student 4 - maybe Level 1, maybe a fail - This student - working their tail off is the type who MIGHT show enough understanding to just get by or they might fail.

    I have seen in classrooms where homework, classwork, etc is included in the grade this type of marking:

    Student 1 gets a 3
    Student 2 gets a 4
    Student 3 fails
    Student 4 gets a 2

    To me that teacher is marking behaviour not content mastery. Even if student 1 and 2 both got a 3 the mark isn't accurate. In fact, it is meaningless in my mind because now what does a 3 means? Does it mean the kid basically gets it or does it mean that they do their homework and follow the teacher's (somewhat arbitrary) rules?
     
  25. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jun 13, 2009

    I guess part of the question some of this discussion boils down to is (and perhaps a difference of opinion there): should grading be entirely about content mastery? I realize some places dictate the answer to this question, but my school does not, and so...

    Without a doubt, content knowledge should be the absolute most important part of it, but is that ALL it should be? Throughout their lives, be it in college, the workplace, or the military, students will be evaluated... constantly. And many of those evaluations will not simply be whether or not they "know" their job or college content, but whether or not they: do it on time, do it professionally, etc. And in college, especially in lower tier courses... if they do the homework.

    I think that for high school students, having some of this reflected in their marks is not a bad thing. For next year, between tests and projects, my assessment category will be around 80% of the student grade. So much of it is still content... but 10% will be participation, and 10% will be homework.
     
  26. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Hi Ron,

    Definately that is a fundamental question. In most (if not all) of Canada the A & E policy dictates this that the grades should reflect content mastery. I think the other interesting thing, however, is that I think grades should accurately reflect one thing. If you add in work effort, a 70 can mean I work my tail off, but I struggle or I do nothing but am brilliant. I don't think a mark that can mean either of those things does anything for anyone. I think we should report on effort, timeliness, etc but in a seperate place on the report card. If I'm an employer or a university, etc I would rather know (by looking at grades): this student is really smart but not much of a worker (i.e. 85% and Ns in work skills) than wondering what the 70 means.
     
  27. MrsTeacher2Be

    MrsTeacher2Be Companion

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    Jun 13, 2009

    Philosophically, I could probably be persuaded that content mastery is the only thing that we should grade. (I'm still new and developing my own opinions :)) Practically, in my situation, I honestly don't think it would work very well, at least not with the students I had this past year. If it's not for a grade, they're not doing it. Period. End of story. (Many of them won't do it even if it is for a grade.) In math you HAVE to practice to understand the concepts. Period. End of story. So how, other than by grading homework, can I make both of those stark realities work for me so that my students learn the most algebra they possibly can and do their absolute best on a state test they have to pass in order to graduate? I don't see another way, but I really would be open to suggestions.
     
  28. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Personally, I think kids need to know there are consequences for not doing the work. That does not mean that everything has to be graded. Getting a 0 is one consequence. There are other consequence that I think suit not doing homework better.
     
  29. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I like the idea of having separate graded categories, and if our report cards and grading system worked that way, I think it would be fantastic. To have a separate mark for Content, Behavior, Citizenship, etc, would be ideal. In fact, I'll likely bring this up to my administration this fall, as I think that could provide a more accurate picture of student performance... very cool. Thank you.

    As per the kids not doing work that isn't graded (per MrsTeacher2Be), I have the same problem really, which is why I do typically assign grades to it. What other consequences have you found to be effective?

    Personally, I'm stuck in a tough spot with that one. We can't give detentions longer than 10 minutes because of buses and several mandatory after school programs (migrant worker after school tutoring, etc). We can't give lunch detentions because students are not allowed to eat in classrooms. We can't even ask students to come early to finish work, as they aren't allowed in the building until 5 minutes before the bell (which I personally hate, but whatever). I find myself at a bit of a (very frustrated mind you) loss.
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I face the same problems at my school. While it is frustrating and while I haven't found a good workaround for the whole not-doing-homework thing, I still don't think it's fair to use grades as a punishment or reward. Grades aren't about that. They're about showing whether a student learned what s/he was supposed to have learned.

    I guess I just use this whole thing as an opportunity to teach students about self-motivation, logic, creativity, and consequences. They don't have to do my homework and that's totally fine. They will soon discover, however, that they'll have to find a different way to learn the material because I will still hold them accountable for it on tests/projects/papers/whatever.

    It's like any other goal: They need to run the marathon. However they choose to prepare for it is up to them. Obviously I think a good way to prepare would be to run a little bit each day for longer and longer periods of time until they can run the whole thing. And I'll tell them that. But if they choose to prepare in other ways, or not at all, that's on them. The life lesson happens when they are in the actual race. They'll figure it out and hopefully do better next time.
     
  31. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I definately can keep them in. However, I also find touching base with parents makes a big difference. I don't teach at a very parent involved school, but generally if I call home about this parents do seem to have an influence on their child's homework time.
     
  32. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Education is not a marathon in my eyes sorry.
     
  33. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Okay.
     
  34. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    I do like the concept of grades being based purely on content mastery. However, I do give some credit for homework completion. I have students who, to put it bluntly, tried and tried this year but simply did not belong in my class. They just simply could not master the content. However, they did all of their homework, came for extra help, and participated in class. While their low test grades meant that they didn't get a C for the year, I would feel uncomfortable failing a student of this sort. They know that my content area is not for them, but my school makes it impossible to drop the class after the first two weeks of school -- at which point both they and I do not have a good enough idea of how much they will understand throughout the year. So they pulled off a D. They won't come back next year, but at least their attempts were duly noted. In college, they can withdraw. At a job, they can quit. In high school, they have no recourse but to grit their teeth and try to muddle through.

    Additionally, I did not originally include class participation as a grade. Unfortunately, I had to include one later on. I had a few students who were disruptive and it became the only way to keep them in line. Parent calls were unanswered or ineffective. Detentions and referrals didn't work. And i had a few who did all their assignments, but would absolutely refuse to participate in class. Maybe it said something about my classroom management, but my mentor said it is somewhat of a necessary evil at my school. I'm hoping to find a better approach for next year, but I think I may need to include it again next year.
     
  35. maestro1

    maestro1 New Member

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    I agree 110% that grades should, for the most part, reflect upon mastery of content. I am a social studies teacher and teach 3 freshman classes at a private high school (World History).

    I am in my first year of teaching, and am 23 years of age. I try to make class as fun as possible for the kids, except this tends to get out of control. For this reason I install a participation grade. I believe if the grade is ALL about content and has nothing to do with the child's behavior, they will disrupt class more often as nothing will be done to their grade.

    Yes, i have tried other methods, such as giving detentions that they have to serve with me after school. However, a few students still continue to disrupt class, and act immaturely. The students that are quiet for the most part during class, learn the material well and show it on exams, come for extra help, will see an increase in their average. As for the students that misbehave, they will see the opposite.

    However, as I stated before, I am a firm believer in that grades should reflect upon mastery of content, so the participation part of the grade is very little. I will probably keep changing my grading policy every year, but with minor changes. This year my grading policy is:

    60% Tests and quizzes
    20% Quarter Project
    10% Quarter Essay
    5% Homework
    5% Participation
     
  36. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Jun 24, 2009

    I'm loving this thread! I have been growing increasingly uncomfortable with my grading system and so I appreciate being able to peek at what others are doing (and why).
    Lots of food for thought! Thanks, everyone.
     

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