Friday, January 20, 2012

Grading Moratorium: Leslye Folmar

Leslye Folmar has joined The Grading Moratorium. Want to join? Here's how.

At what stage of the abolish grading game are you?

I no longer give out letter grades in literacy (reading and writing) and I am working toward the same in Math.

Why do you want to or why did you abolish grading?

Honestly, I abolished grades because my district adopted a continuum system instead of letter grades. However, if they had not done so, I would have abolished grades in my classroom this year anyway.

I would have abolished grades because they have no meaning, they carry no weight...An A means one thing in the Advanced Proficient class and another thing in the Basic Skills class, but on the report card there was no way to distinguish that difference.

I knew something needed to be changed when I looked through one of my struggling students portfolio and saw that he “earned” A’s from k-3rd grade, his grades we not a true reflection of who he was as a student.

I also knew I needed to abolish grades when I noticed my students rushing to see their letter grade and not to see what they got right or wrong. It seemed that they were done with the “learning” once the grade was given.

What do you do in replace of grading?

Instead of traditional letter grades, I place students on a skills continuum. Once a student shows 80% proficiency in a category they are able to move up.

How do you establish a grade if you have no grades?

This is not an issue for reading and writing but it becomes tricky for math. I no longer put grades on test or quizzes; instead I put fractions (total correct/total number of problems).

I have also created a skill sheet to go along with each assessment. I focus on the skills mastered and those that need more attention instead of the grade.

What fears did you have about abolishing grading?

I fear that cutting out grades will take away some of my students motivation. However, this may just be my issue.

What challenges do/did you encounter with abolishing grading?

Parent-teacher conferences were the first time I encountered any trouble with abolishing grades. Parents needed something concrete (a letter grade) to know where their child fit in with their peers. As I tried to explain the continuum and the skills their child was showing progress with, I was interrupted with, “That’s nice…but what grade is she/he getting?”

Are you willing to provide contact information (e-mail, Twitter,
blog, Skype, etc) for others who are interested in abolishing grading?


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