I don’t like assigning grades. I tell my students that I don’t “give” them grades, but that they “earn” them. However it is still one of my least favorite parts of being a teacher. I don’t mind assessing their work as it lets me know what they understand and what they (yet) don’t.
Yet I wonder, how do I effectively communicate all that a student has (or has not) learned by a percent? By a letter? Is there really a difference between the students who ends up with a 79.2% and the student who has a 80.2%? Lately I’ve been wondering if my grading is too harsh, then the next moment wondering if it is too forgiving.
From what I’ve been reading, it appears I’m not alone with these thoughts. Jen is wondering if her grading is too lenient. Pissed off Teacher was told not to give partial credit (and then was given a different message ). I think this tweet from Kelly sums up my thoughts pretty well.
As I prepare to grade my seniors’ test on quadratics, these issues are weighing heavily. I want them to be able to correctly solve the problem. I also don’t want to penalize those that make a silly arithmetic mistake. Yet, how much partial credit is deserved? Does a student who makes “silly” mistake after mistake on every question “deserve” to pass? What if they have been coming in for help consistently and still just don’t get it, do they deserve to fail?
Well, the exams are graded. Some of the cherubs rocked. Some made strange mistakes. Most fell somewhere in the middle (which shouldn’t surprise me, but somehow, it does – every time).
The average for both classes was 75.5, the median was 83.6. I really don’t know how to interpret this. Does this mean the majority of them are getting it? That my grading is too easy? That too many aren’t getting it? What scores would make me happy? I just don’t know.
The first box-and-whisker plot below shows the combined averages of both classes. The second is for my 4th period section, the third my 8th period.
One thing I do know, I’ve gotta figure out what is going on in 8th period. I really don’t think having math the last period of the day is the best idea for a lot of these kids. I just really don’t know what else to do about it.
In the long run, I’m still wondering what this all really means. What is/are the purpose(s) of grades? To report achievement? To reward? To punish? To guide instruction?
Nope, I don’t like this part of teaching at all.