Output Education

Education Blog

Flexible and Smart Grading Practices

Flexible and Smart Grading Practices

23 April, 2016

Do away from traditional grading system and utilize the following strategies to better develop students.

Address Behavioral Issues Impacting Academic Achievement

Points off for late work may not encourage students. When points are taken off for late work, some students just accepted their losses. It didn’t solve the behavioral issue of late work. Likewise, it didn’t address the problem of incomplete work. A form, similar to Myron Dueck’s late or incomplete assignment form, can be tried to address what was getting in the way of turning in work on time. Here, students determine those issues, from heavy course load to procrastination, and then set a new goal for completion. They also identify the support structure they might need. These forms are great behavioral issues assessments that are responsive and not punitive. It’s a method that truly helps students to be ready for a future when it’s much more detrimental to turn in work late.

Request to Retest

This is a great way to put the student in the driver’s seat of what they’ll redo and how they’ll redo it. It puts the responsibility on them to be self-advocates for their learning and helps them set goals for progress. In a request to retest form, students reflect on their score and the concepts or skills that they failed. They also identify next steps on how to improve their test. While this is specific to a more traditional test, it could also be used for other major evaluations that have several components or concepts.

Redo Parts of an Assessment

Some assessments that are given to students have very clear categories. For example, a history exam might assess multiple concepts or ideas, or an essay might assess thesis and organization. Here, the data is easily disaggregated. If this is the case, have the student redo only the parts that he or she needs, leaving the rest as is. That also means the teachers have to re-grade or reassess much less. It saves time as an educator and helps really target assessments. Again, this may not be a useful strategy for assessments that synthesize concepts or skills, but rather for assessments that can be easily disaggregated.

Reflect on Assessments

One technique that many educators use is ongoing reflection throughout the assessment process, whether we’re talking about a small quiz or a major exam. For example, after students finish an assessment, they reflect and discuss questions such as:

  • Were you prepared for this test? How did you prepare?
  • How long did you study the material outside of class?
  • Did you feel more confident about some parts or sections than others?

These questions enable students to recognize their strengths and weakness in what they need to learn, and how they can better prepare to learn the material. This strategy also connects to behavioral issues that get in the way of academic achievement, addressing them directly in a non-punitive way. It also assists students and teachers plan for redoes that may not be full redoes, saving teachers and students’ time and stress.

Pick Your Battles

You know your curriculum. You know that some assessments and assignments are vital in showing evidence of learning. Other assessments, mostly formative, are simply check-ins and don’t influence the grade much or at all. These smaller assessments may not be worthy of redoes or late/incomplete assignment forms. On the other hand, bigger, more comprehensive assessments may present better chances for offering redoes and addressing behavioral issues. As a master educator, you can select your battles and focus on what matters most in terms of assessment. Use your best judgment!