I couldn’t call it DE-grading, now could I…
It couldn’t really be this easy, could it?
- Increased motivation to learn for the sake of learning
- More time on task
- A rise in creativity and critical thinking
- Improved work completion
- A much more positive classroom culture
- No angry calls from parents
I’ve seen all of these things in my classes in the first month of school.
What did I do? More importantly, what DIDN’T I do? You’re thinking, “here comes the sales pitch…”
I haven’t given my students a single grade.
First, some context, so you can see how your system and mine are similar and different:
- I teach high school science at a public school (not a charter)
- 90+% of my students qualify for free and reduced lunch
- 90+% of my students are ethnic minorities
- We have a traditional school structure (standard course offerings, 6 period days, 55 minutes per class, etc.)
- I am required to report athletic eligibility grades every Friday
- I am required to give students progress reports every 2 weeks
- I must report grades at the end of each quarter
- My electronic gradebook is viewable by any parent at any time
Pretty standard stuff, really.
For years, I’ve wanted to do away with grades but never was sure how. Somewhere in my mind, I was still caught up in the fallacy of needing grades to motivate students. I also felt a strong need to have a defensible position for my grades. I wandered through the woods of various point systems my first 3 years. I gave standards-based grading (SBG) the old college try the last 2 years. Retakes and no late penalties; all that stuff was part of my system. No matter what I did, it never felt right.
I always said, “I love teaching but I hate grading!”
Now I know why: I was evaluating student work and passing judgement on it. No matter how clear and detailed my rubrics were, it was still my subjective evaluation of their work. In fact, the more clear and detailed my rubrics, the more boring their work became – both for them to do and for me to assess.
Next post: How I’m doing UNgrading!
Image used under cc license from the flickr stream of amboo who?