***Disclaimer: The thoughts shared in this post are my opinion. I would love love to hear other peoples thoughts on best grading practices.

My
6yr old daughter has spelling tests every week at school, and I hate it. I feel
like spelling tests are pointless. Being able to write a word one week doesn’t
mean anything to me – especially if you don’t understand what the word means or
how to use it. So far, Dixie has done well on her tests. However, every week I
anxiously wait for her to bring the graded test home so I can see the grade and
breath a sigh of relief. I get anxious because I know how much each word is
worth – 10points. Missing 3 words on the test means getting 30% of the test
wrong and earning a C grade (70%). Misspelling 4 words would give her a *gulp*
60%. The most annoying thing to me is that if she has 4 words like

(from this
week's list):

**those woke stone joke**
and
spells them:

She
would have missed only 4 out of the 18 letters she needed to write down
correctly. Adding in the other 6 words on her list, missing 4 letters means
missing 9.3% of the test (there are 43 letters in all that make up the entire
list of words).

In
my book missing 9% of a 100-point test, should not constitute a near failing
grade. Should it?

Having
an elementary-school-age child has changed my philosophy on grading in the
classroom. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through a plethora of ideas on best
grading practices. Originally I was a teacher who if you solved a problem like
2x+6=4 and wrote x= 1, would make the problem wrong no matter what, and move on
to the next one. The more I think about it though, the more I dislike the black
and white “wrong is wrong” line of thinking when it refers to grading. Why do I
think this? Because I feel, it is mathematically incorrect.

Here’s
an example why:

When
I teach students how to solve equations, I am teaching them steps they need to
follow to correctly solve equations. I am not teaching them that 4/2 = 2
(teaching that was someone else's responsibility). I am teaching students that
when they see parentheses around an expression that includes a variable they
can remove the parentheses by distributing. I am teaching them that when they
see a variable multiplied by a coefficient on one side of the equation and a
constant on the other they should isolate the variable by performing the
inverse operation (division) to both sides of the equation. In the situation
above Jessie is showing me that he has a good grasp of the method I’ve taught.
The mistake he made was big enough to change his answer, but it is not big
enough for me to mark the question as entirely wrong.

I
give credit for work done correctly. I do not believe in marking a problem
completely wrong because a minor mistake led to a wrong answer. If I were to
give a 10 question, 100-point test on solving multi-step equations (like the one
shown above) each question would be worth 10 points. When I grade work my line
of thinking goes something like this:

If
this question were worth 10 points on the test, I would give this answer 6 or 7
out of 10 points. Jessie completed the majority of the steps correctly – and
his grade should reflect that. I do not think it is fair to allow a minuscule mistake like this to cause a failing grade.

I
don’t want to get into this too much (this post is already longer than I
anticipated) but one of my major issues with standardized testing nowadays is
that they do grade students in black in white, “wrong is wrong”, “right is
right” form. Standardized testing ignores everything a student does right and
puts all of the attention on minuscule mistakes made, which is unfair. Outside
of school in the real world we recognize that mistakes are part of being human.
Standardized testing ignores that part of human nature and expects absolute
perfection.

I for one would take pride in receiving an
answer like the one given by Jessie above. It shows that Jessie is grasping the
methods I’ve spent time teaching in class. Standardized testing ignores that
anything was done correctly to solve a problem. Jessie would receive the same
grade for his work as a student who chooses to go through the test highlighting
random answers without doing any work at all – which is wrong.

How
do you grade students work? Do you give credit for work done, or mark
everything wrong if the answer is wrong?

IDisclaimer:: I asked my daughter to write the words incorrectly for me so I could add a graphic to the post. She asked me to make sure I shared with you that she does know how to spell the words above correctly. :)

Picture for the title post is from:: Robert Couse-Baker

Clip Art is from: Lovin Lit

Fonts are from: KG Fonts

I believe in grading fairly, that is why it sometimes takes me forever to grade assessments. I understand that students make mathematical errors from time to time (we all do), but they still understand the process. I emphasis to my students that I care more about the process than the answer. If a question is worth ten points, the answer itself is work 1 out of the ten points. The rests of the points come from the process. If an answer is wrong, I go through the problem to see where the break down happened, was it mathematical or was it a process error? Sometimes they get the correct answer, but made a mistake in the process and I still take points off, because they didn't demonstrate an understanding of the process. It is more time consuming, but I think the students appreciate the feedback more.

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