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Grading News

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.

January22, 2013 Using performance assessment in place of tests

Skills, Big Ideas and Getting Grades Out of the Way

A great college example of grading for learning.

January 21, 2013 MIT professors getting it right.

Competency-based Model

A very interesting description of a competency-based model that involves many of the
principles of standards-based grading. The comments and responses are also
very interesting and worth reading.

January 3rd 2013 \"Five things That Changed At My School When We Adopted A Competency-Based Model\"

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

Fall 2009 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?


November 18, 2009 How one family won the battle against homework
November 19, 2009 More teachers flexing around homework
November 18, 2009 Calgary family inks no homework covenant with school
November 22, 2009 What the research says about kids and homework

Over the last few years there have been a lot of questions about the value of homework.
One family in Calgary has arranged a contract with their children and the school they
attend that virtually bans homework. As the result of this type of parental involvement and
research on the value of homework it also appears that some teachers are (appropriately)
becoming more flexible about homework.

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
mathematical principles.

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!

July7, 2009 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.

Attendance - Punish or engage

July 2, 2009 Collier school district working to reduce absences among its top students
July 5, 2009 Teachers are the key for students who like learning and remain curious

Collier County (FL) is considering punishing high achieving students who miss classes but a
cognitive scientist says that students have to be engaged in learning.

More on zeros

June 29, 2009 Hernando County is considering taking zero out of its grading policy

Good - another district, this time in Florida, is addressing the zero issue.
Bad - the numerical illiterates attack the school district in the comments

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).

Grading in Texas

April 26, 2009 Plano considers alternative grading policy for middle schools
April 26, 2009 Texas Senate bill aims to stop no-fail grading in public schools
April 26, 2009 Senate backs elimination of \'no-fail\' grading

A very unfortunate situation has developed in Texas with the elimination of zeros in
percentage grading scales being characterized as 'no fail' grading. A Senate bill has now
been passed to prevent school districts having grading policies that mandate the use of
50% as the lowest score that can be recorded. It is a pity that Senator Nelson does not
understand basic math; if she did, her bill would have required that percentage scales be
replaced by level scales like AP and IB.