Grading can be a scary subject for both student and teacher, but it doesn’t have to be the case when careful planning and effective communication are set into place. Cooper offers several different approaches to tackling this subject, but in the end, it comes down to exercising professional judgement. Which approach will I use, and will it accurately reflect my students’ achievement?
Initially, the task seemed overwhelming, but after taking a step back and approaching it the same way I would an instructional design—with the end in mind—organizing grades by learning targets seemed to be the perfect fit. First, clear and concise communication must be developed between the teacher and the student with regard to the essential learning targets to be acquired—whether the student is on an IEP or not. In this sense, the student is aware of their expectations and the teacher knows precisely which learning targets to assess. Second, assessment tasks are then planned and organized in such a way to provide achievement evidence based on the grading categories developed by the teacher (e.g., Application of Learning). This approach is both simple and effective because as highlighted by Cooper, “Data organized in this way provides critical information about the success and, more importantly, about areas requiring immediate attention.” (pg. 195).
When it comes to assigning weight, my view is that the emphasis should be placed on more recent evidence because it seems logical, fair, and inline with reality. Whether applying for an undergraduate degree, a graduate degree, or even a job, special emphasis is always given to the most recent work experience/grades. Similarly, when students work hard in the course and show improvement over time, this should be acknowledged and accurately reflected in their final grade to provide them with the necessary motivation to continue on this path.
Careful consideration should also be given to separating behavioural and attitudinal data on report cards to more accurately reflect student achievement. Progress report cards, on the other hand, “show student’s development of learning skills and work habits during the fall of the school year” (Growing Success, pp. 40). This concept was new to me and I often heard this term tossed around during my CSL placement and while watching the movie, Entre Le Murs, without really understanding the full idea. In a recent experience, when it came to incomplete work, instead of assigning a zero, my Associate Teacher asked the student to take out his progress agenda and noted the incomplete work. He then politely asked the student if it would be ok to phone home and let his parents know that he might need help with the assignment. The student agreed and issue was resolved without the need of assigning a zero, which in the end, is of greatest benefit to the student.