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Grading: Compliance Or Quality?

image from graphics8.nytimes.com Should teachers grade students based on their compliance with class rules -- turning homework in on time, all the time -- or on the quality of the work that they do?  That's the question in this weekend's New York Times piece claiming that "standards-based grading" is on the rise in Illinois as well as in other parts of the country (A’s for Good Behavior).  What do you think?  Is there too much compliance-based grading in Chicago classrooms, and are its effects nefarious, or is it OK or even a good thing to reward kids for doing what they're told as much as for mastering materials?

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Thanks, I guess, for linking to such a laughable idea. These crackpot ideas could only happen "as test scores fast become the single and most powerful measurement by which educational outcomes are being judged."

Which is more important, more testable facts, or showing up for work on time, prepared, with a good attitude? Which is a better preparation for life? The old mantra, "fake it until you make it" is far more profound a value system. Who can prejudge when a kid who is trying will have the light go on? Which is more important, the final product or the journey? Children aren't little adults, and there is much more too life than test scores. Besides, the idea of grading objectively is laughable. I had kids with 2nd and 3rd grade skills in classes with kids with college skills. Oh yeah, the answer for that is differientiated instruction. Grading for effort is not just a good idea, it is essential. What do these theorists do in their spare time, use rubrics to give grades to sunsets?

Thanks, I guess, for linking to such a laughable idea. These crackpot ideas could only happen "as test scores fast become the single and most powerful measurement by which educational outcomes are being judged."

Which is more important, more testable facts, or showing up for work on time, prepared, with a good attitude? Which is a better preparation for life? The old mantra, "fake it until you make it" is far more profound a value system. Who can prejudge when a kid who is trying will have the light go on? Which is more important, the final product or the journey? Children aren't little adults, and there is much more too life than test scores. Besides, the idea of grading objectively is laughable. I had kids with 2nd and 3rd grade skills in classes with kids with college skills. Oh yeah, the answer for that is differientiated instruction. Grading for effort is not just a good idea, it is essential. What do these theorists do in their spare time, use rubrics to give grades to sunsets?

I don't think it's that simple. Given the nature of one of my kids, I've asked that question a lot -- is it about mastering the subject matter, or about dotting i's and crossing t's?

IMHO, both types of people play important roles in the real world, and an educational system that addressed different learning styles would somehow find a way to work with both styles -- the independent thinker and the diligent-and-cooperative.

John, the problem is that if you merge the "achievement" grade and the "effort" grade, you can't see which children actually are learning the content and skills they're needing to learn, and which children are not. By the same token, you can't see which students are quick studies in learning the content but have a hard time with the soft skills. You are right that soft skills are crucially important; that is why they should be separately graded.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, John. In my classroom, differentiating my instruction - and therefore my grading - is a vital component to the success of my students. If I only ever graded for quality, there would be several students who would never meet the standard. I'd like to think that by occasionally grading for compliance, I'm building a culture of success within my students. Ideally, "success will breed more success" by motivating my students to work more diligently to increase their level of mastery.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, John. In my classroom, differentiating my instruction - and therefore my grading - is a vital component to the success of my students. If I only ever graded for quality, there would be several students who would never meet the standard. I'd like to think that by occasionally grading for compliance, I'm building a culture of success within my students. Ideally, "success will breed more success" by motivating my students to work more diligently to increase their level of mastery.

A good teacher knows who is to be challenged and who is slacking. Good behavior often brings about good results. Has our society gone so far as to grade good behavior? Will I get a raise if I tell my boss good morning or not leave my coat in the faculty room? Can we no longer expect anything without a reward? I'll tell my professor I drank all my milk at lunch and recycled the carton.

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