An article published by Realtor.com claims 73% of home buyers consider the quality of a school when purchasing a home. Of that number, 78% are willing to sacrifice luxuries such as garages and backyards in order to purchase in an area with better schools. Q: How is the quality of a school determined? Taken from … Continue reading Redefining Quality: Working towards new measures of school achievement
This post originally appeared on the Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee (PTAC) Blog. PTAC endeavors to connect the voices of highly-recognized teachers in Pennsylvania with educational decision makers. About eight years ago an administrator started a faculty meeting by asking the question, “Why are so many of our students unable to pass the state Keystone exams … Continue reading The Unintended Consequences of Grades
My school recently implemented a feedback-based assessment model (a version of gradeless) for all its incoming grade-nine students. Prior to that, some of us teachers volunteered to “pilot” it across departments to work out the kinks of implementation before we tried it school-wide. From my experience, implementing this version of gradeless requires a plan for … Continue reading Learning Maps: Empowering Students to Chart Their Course
Ask a teacher why they teach, or what they hope for their students, and they will share some powerful thoughts — “I believe all kids can succeed”, “I want students to be curious, ask questions, and enjoy learning new things”, and “As a teacher, I aim to cultivate society.”
Much of the evidence for the gradeless movement focuses on its positive effect on students, as it should. However, when reflecting on the impact of deciding to shift away from traditional grading practices, I realize how much it taught me.
As I was planning my return to the classroom in the winter and spring of 2017, I found myself doing as much reading as I could to learn the different ways to teach students more effectively.
Grades are meant to be representative of a child’s progress. If a student is doing well, they receive an A or B, 3’s or 4’s. Often overlooked is the actual measure of progress: feedback. If you want to tackle objectives for a student, look no further than descriptive notes that highlight strengths and weaknesses.
It made sense to me that kids should not be labeled with numbers. With every new story that was shared, I became more interested. Despite this, I was certain of one thing:
I made a simple but effective change to my explanation of the system: I started referring to these courses as averageless instead of gradeless.
This little tweak has led to profound changes in the way I talk to students about their writing and the way they respond to my feedback. I’ve also seen an incredibly positive impact on their growth as writers.