We need a better way

I stumbled across @joe_bower ‘s blog yesterday – the aptly named For the Love of Learning – and had a field day reading all of his work.  It reminded me of a feeling I began to have very strongly three years ago.  However, due to pressures of the system, I wandered away from it.

The feeling?

I really want to do away with grades.  Students need mentoring and formative feedback, not judgement!

I’ve spent the last three years wandering through the woods of assessment.  I’ve read Stiggins, Marzano, Kohn and others.  In a lot of ways, this all just left me unsure as to what was the “right” grading method.

I thought standards based grading ala Marzano was the answer.  It was better in some ways and worse in others.  I felt like I was doing a lot more work, and yet students were even more confused about why they got the grade they did then they had been before.  No matter how many times I explained it, I still had students ask me “how many points is this worth?”  Standards based grading was better in the sense that it wasn’t about points, but rather measurements of skills and knowledge.

No matter what I do, though, grading remains the least fulfilling part of my job.  I love teaching and I fully understand that, for now, grades are a significant part of my job.  The crucial question is this:

If I love teaching, why do I abhor grading, which is one of the traditional keystones of teaching ?

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because grading gets in the way of learning.  If my job is not about the facilitation of learning then I need to get another job!

2 thoughts on “We need a better way

  1. Catching up on reading (via Instapaper). I’m right with you on this post. Being thinking a lot about issues like this recently, and I’m glad to see you’re watching Alfie Kohn too. He makes me really think. plm

  2. The interesting thing for me has been that I read Kohn’s work a few years ago and loved it. However, I dismissed his ideas on grading as impossible in the current system. Now that I’ve been following Dan Pink and Sir Ken Robinson, I’m coming back to Alfie Kohn as well.

    Maybe it’s too important to worry about possible negative repercussions?

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