We had a faculty learning session during our weekly meeting time this morning. You might recall that we were asked to select, read, and think about an article on assessment provided to us.
Today we broke into groups based upon our article of interest. My group consisted of my principal, a Judaics teacher, a history teacher, and me. Our biology teacher popped in, too. One of the things I was wondering about what how my administration might feel about Tony Winger’s ideas — I suppose that question was answered.
My principal made the valid point that in our school, in a culture that is so grade conscious to the point that students will want to discuss and argue about a few points, how do we get kids to see the value of a grade that is reflective of their performance, that communicates areas of strength and deficiency? This is something I wonder about, too.
I would say that my grading is tough, but fair. I feel as if I am in line with my school and department in that area. However, students expect to make A’s and B’s. In fact, students in Honors classes expect to make only A’s. It is frustrating for me to communicate to them that a B is a very good grade. In most grading scales, it means “above average.” The A grade means “excellent.” I don’t know about you, but not everything I do is “excellent.” This conveys a level of mastery that is impossible to achieve on every assignment in every class. Yet I feel that I must have too many conversations with students justifying grades when I gave given, in most cases, copious comments and clear rubrics. I am not saying that I don’t have room to improve in communicating expectations, but I feel that at least as far as major assignments, such as the research paper, students are very clear about expectations. I think they don’t always believe I will adhere to the rubric, but that’s a different issue.