Within the last year or so I have learned to use Twitter to find professional development, and have loved it. I have noticed a good bit of discussion regarding grades and grading practices. Over my years of teaching I have researched and implemented a number of ideas – but one is at the heart of the process for a quality standard of teaching; the analogous line in the sand. From the number of articles I have read about grading, what I found lacking was a discussion of an ultimate accountability factor for both teacher and student. Many discuss grades as an evil archaic practice. I fell the purpose of the grade is the archaic ideology, not the grade itself.
A grade as I define it should be only a reflection of the student’s learning. And secondarily, the grade is a communication tool between teacher/student, student/parent, teacher/parent, and teacher/teacher. I know this may sound “pie in the sky” and in fact the process is exactly the opposite; a very straight forward occasionally brutally honest approach for both teachers and students. It holds both partners accountable; the teacher is accountable for creating rigorous creative lessons that place the individual students in the forefront and places the accountability of learning squarely on the shoulders of the students. I teach everyone from AP students to those in an alternative educational placement and it works for all students. I chose an arbitrary number, something that all stakeholders could understand and drew a line in the sand, changing the way I think about grades, teaching, and learning forever.
If this intrigues you and you want to discuss it further please let me know. Let’s begin the discussion to truly transform learning one grade at a time.