Cheating - whose fault is it?
Is it really and scandal and whose fault is it? The students are not blameless but I do not
understand how the professor can justify giving a take-home final at the college level and
apparently not giving clear (enough) instructions about acceptable and unacceptable student
February 2, 2013
Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal
I have 99 problems but a test ain't one
Wise words from a teacher about how he has stopped giving tests and is using performance
assessment, both to engage his students, and to find out more accurately what they know,
understand, and can do.
Using performance assessment in place of tests
A summary of grading principles
November 12, 2009
Making the Grades
This may not be news and I do not think I am a new voice but I wanted to post my article
from the ASCD Express on-line newsletter.
Finally trying to do the right thing in Texas
November 19, 2009
Houston-area districts sue over grading policy
Here we go again on grading in Texas but this time it is finally some school districts trying
to do the right thing. These districts are challenging the misunderstanding and numerical
illiteracy that is the basis of the Texas law about minimum scores.
Unbelievable - a principal allows students to buy better grades
November 11, 2009
For $20 kids can buy a better grade
Fund raising by middle school students buying better test scores probably doesn't have a
huge impact on students' grades but what message does it send - the exact opposite of the
message students should be getting because it reinforces the idea that school is about the
accumulation of points not learning.
Assessment - Doing it Right, Using it Well
One schools journey in educational improvement
This article describes the journey of Branksome Hall (a girl's independent school in
Toronto) to a very positive and effective assessment environment.
Lack of quality in assessment
November 19, 2009
Coming to terms with the effects of no longer requiring long papers
This article raise important questions about what requirements there should be for writing in
high school courses. Is quality assessment (balance and target-method match) occuring
when students do not have to write long papers?
Dallas - again
November 5, 2009
Proposal would end minimum grade of 50 on Dallas school report cards
It looks as if officials in Dallas are backing off on the requirement for teachers to give
students a grade of at least 50% on report cards because of a new state law on grading.
The problem is clearly the percentage system so if the teachers could use a level system
rather than percentages the problem could be easily solved.
Hernando County backs off a plan to ban the zero
July 8, 2009
Lack of understanding and intestinal fortitude in Hernando County
Here is the e-mail I sent to the journalist who wrote the story -
To Tony Marrero,
If I had Wayne Alexander's e-mail address I would be sending this to him.
Please tell him that he is wrong to refuse to continue consideration of the grading scale
suggested by Hernando's curriculum specialists. His refusal and the decision of three
board members to oppose the proposal reveals their numerical illiteracy which is truly
shocking for people with the responsibilities that they have to set policy for a school
We (teachers and board members) have an ethical and moral responsibility to ensure what
we teach in Mathematics is applied in teachers' grade books. We teach in math about
equal difference and ratio yet these board members are going to maintain an unequal
grading scale where the range for an F is 6 times the range for an A, B, C, or D. If there are
ten points for an A, a B, a C and D then having a 60 point range for an F means that a zero
is the equivalent of a K. Surely educated people can understand that this is not the what is
intended and is not fair or reasonable and needs to be corrected. The move to establish a
floor of 40 and a score of 49 as the lowest score for work attempted are steps in the right
direction that should be supported by anyone who has a reasonable understanding of
Could you also suggest to Mr. Alexander that if he will not support a floor of 40 there are
other - and better - alternatives. The first is to drop the use of the percentage scale
(which is incompatible with standards-based education) and use an equal difference level
scale where zeros are acceptable, e.g., A - 4, B- 3, C- 2, D - 1, F - 0. The second - and
best - alternative is that teachers simply record an NS (not submitted) in their grade books
for missing work and towards the end of the grading period decide whether each student
has submitted sufficient evidence to determine a grade; if there is sufficient evidence,
albeit with some missing, then a grade is determined; if there is insufficient evidence the
student does not receive an A, B, C, D or F, but, regardless of the quality of the submitted
assessment evidence, the student receives an I for Incomplete. Procedures need to be
idetermined for how Incompletes will be handled and throughout the grading period there
needs to be an intense program of support for students who have failed to complete
essential assessment evidence, that is, times and places where students will get the help
they need to get done what needs to be done.
Low grades may lead to exclusion from extra-curricular activities - getting it wrong!
Vermont district may keep students with low grades out of extracurricular activities
Grades are usually the basis for athletic and extra-curricular eligibility. This story is a classic
example of why it is wrong. Grades should have nothing to do with eligibility. Eligibility
should be based on attendance and behaviour. If a student is attending regularly, trying hard
and behaving appropriately they should be allowed to participate regardless of their grades.
To zero or not to zero - approaches to missing assessment evidence
downloaded June 6, 2
Teaching Heros:Toss the Zeros (Education World)
June 4, 2009
Fifty instead of a zero misses the point (ASCD Inservice)
May 16, 2009
Zero effort adds up to 50 at some schools (Houston Chronicle)
A hot issue in many schools/districts is what to do about missing assessment evidence -
zeros or an alternative approach that provides support to get the work done. Clearly
getting the work done is the educative approach and zeros should never be permitted -
for students or by teachers. There have been some interesting articles on this issue
recently and the links are below. Please note that, although it is not stated in the articles,
support programs to get missing assessments done should be used only for critical
assessment evidence - not every little thing.
Grading Scales in Mississippi
April 27, 2009
Miss. schools weigh grading scale shift
Another example of the public discussion about grading focussing on the wrong issue -
how to manipulate the percentage scale, instead of focussing on the real issue - the need
to eliminate the percentage scale and use a limited number of levels (two to seven).