Sunday, April 18, 2010

Abolish Grading Video - character education and collaboration

Here is my first go at a videocast. Inside of 5 minutes, I discuss why we need to abolish grading so that we can properly teach students good character education and collaboration skills. I would love to receive feedback on what you thought worked well and how I could make my second videocast even better.


  1. I absolutely agree with you.
    My teaching partner and I have started "trying" to implement "no" grades - just comments, suggestions, and questions. My question is when the end of the quarter/trimester comes along and you have to input a grade on the report card what do you base the letter grade on? If questioned about a grade by a parent how do you explain and/or support the grade?
    Lastly, I really enjoyed how you used Prezi with your vodcast!

  2. Tom I think we base the "grade" on the learning outcomes you have been working for. That is what I report on in elementary school and I admit it would be difficult to do this in a high school class where percentages come into play. Joe is right. If we are honest, we will recognize a tendency to rank our students. We create grade scarcities in student's minds. Only a few can be truly outstanding. Nobody can get 100% because everyone can improve some way. We have been at this old dance for too many years.

  3. Full disclosure: I'm a psychometrician, and I used to work on the standardized testing program at Alberta Ed. So now, I have two comments. One, it seems to me that you are not so much against testing per se as what people do with the test scores. Let's face it, it's great to know what your students already know and what they're still finding challenging so they, and you can direct efforts appropriately. And testing is an excellent way to supplement your judgment about who ought to be focusing on what.

    Two, your comment about everyone getting 100% to me is an issue of how the test was designed and constructed. If you were designing a mastery test, or a prerequisite knowledge test then 100% for everyone is possible and wouldn't arose suspicion.

    No wait, 3 comments. Chances are when your students hear about testing, they hear about it in a disparaging context. I think the best way to change the 'effects' that testing has on students is to inoculate them -- teach them concepts and skills, then have them demonstrate understanding by building their own test 'questions' or activities in groups, or as a class - the 'create' level of revised Bloom's. And for that matter, in my experience teachers love PD on assessment. Admittedly, this is self-serving, but that leads me to believe that much of the poor perception of assessment could be greatly improved with improved knowledge on how to use it.

  4. I agree too. I struggle with assessment in that instead of being in the moment with a student ad celebrating learning or helping them in the right direction, I am burdened with the "job" I have to do when it comes to reporting their achievement. I teach high school and it all comes down to a percentage and nothing else. I dislike having to go from "here's what you did today and here's the number I have to attach to it".

  5. Great podcast. I'm a little lost though?

    What do you suggest regarding standards? No standards? Or are you simply saying that grading to a standard is what's broken and not the standard by itself?

    For example, my current view would be that there has to be a standard of performance for a student to move from one level to the next (grade level or otherwise).

    In your world, would there be students who fail and students who are promoted? Or would everyone be promoted? Or would there be no standard?

    Please clarify.


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