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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Grading Policies

Grading Policies

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Hello Everybody, My school is having a discussion this year regarding grading policies. Our principal thinks that our teachers should be united in our grading. We as a staff voted and agreed upon a school wide grade scale. (In a survey, we discovered about 10 different grade scales for our approximately 50 teachers.) We as a staff also use the same grade book which is web based and parents can access their students’ records anytime. The discussion now has turned to whether or not zeros should be entered for assignments not submitted by students. Some say that zeros in the grade book deflate the student’s self-esteem and so that may cause some students to not even try. Some say that zeros in the grade book are simply a matter of record keeping and provide information to the student and parent regarding work that needs to be completed. Some say that zeros are entered for assignments not turned in and can not be made up because students are expected to turn work in on time. I am interested in any insights, ideas, information that any of you can share.

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Comments (17)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Theresa W.'s picture
Theresa W.
Third grade teacher in Marion, SC

Hello Anna, I teach third grade in an intermediate school. We have a grading policy that all teachers adhere to but I do not agree with it. We cannot put any grade lower than a 50 in the gradebook. So even if the student made a 32, we have to give tham a 50. I do not think this is fair but it is policy. I believe that whatever the student makes, that is what the student should get. As far as not turning in something I do not put a grade at all. I hope this helps.

E. Brice's picture

This can be a controversial topic in which teachers sometimes need to put themselves in the student's seat. I agree that students should be accountable for all work and putting a zero for work not turned in should be shown. It allows the parents to see that work is missing. The problem with that is the students who are usually missing the work are the students who do not have parential support. I don't think you can put general terms on this topic. As a teacher, I need to know more than the work didn't get turned in. I would sugguest a graduated scale and some credit for late paper. I don't think the zero is what is demoralizing to the self-esteam, I think it's the fact that it's so final. If I knew that I could not in some way save the session I would be upset. To get some credit would at least provide an avenue for success. We as educators need to be careful when we draw a line and say this is it. I would want to be treated with a little more compassion. I'm not sure this will help you with your problem. Grading systems are always causing problems.

Andrea R.'s picture
Andrea R.

Brice, I see where you are are coming from, but let me be the devil's advocate. If that student keeps getting 'chances' to make up, when will he or she learn to take responsibility? The reality is, we don't always get a 'chance' to make up for omissions. Suppose you have been asking, begging, pleading with the student to turn in the assignment? Suppose you have given extension after extension, then what? In the real world, bosses fire people who don't deliver or are irresponsible. Don't get me wrong, I loathe giving a student a zero, but sometimes, you have no choice. How do we teach the student about responsibility in this case? I am looking forward to hearing from everyone.

Irene B's picture

I agree with you. We have slowly been removing the responsibility from the students and placing those responsibilities on teachers. I hate to give a student a zero but I think giving a child a fifty for work that they didn't even do is worst. If we were in the workplace we would not get paid fifty percent if we did not perform up to standards, we would be fired. School is supposed to prepare you for life.

Heather Maddox's picture
Heather Maddox
Special Education Teacher 4/5

Just a thought-
My son is in 9th grade and they have a card that they get with their grades. Depending on how they did the quarter before (improved, 4.0, 3.5, etc) they get a card with numbers around it. If he has a late assignment the teacher punches it and then he can turn it in. The better the grades or improvement the more the punches- I believe the most is 3 per period. When the quarter is over the card is no good and they could get another one for the new grades or improvement. So it gives them a chance to make it up. The other thing is they have a study hall after school and a bus to take them home for kids who need it. Grades are mailed home and failing grades are sent right when it happens. There is an automatic phone call home if they are absent and when grades or newletters are sent home. They really try to keep high school parents aware of what is going on. One more thing. All athletes have 1 hour of required study hall each day before practice.

Pam S.'s picture

At my school, we have varying policies; however, each team grades consistently. When I was in the classroom, my team did give zeroes for incomplete assignments. To allow students to make-up all work missed was not working so we decided to drop one low grade each grading period. This offered a sort-of forgiveness since we all have bad days. Also when circumstances arose that we felt were credible, we allowed students to make-up assignments. On the grading program that we use, teachers can also make a comment that allows parents to see that the assignment was not completed. My team also made it our policy to make a parent contact whenever there were two missed assignments.

MattR's picture

I have struggled with the idea of zeroes for a couple of years now. I have done some reading which suggests going to a 4 point grading system. That way all F's are zeroes, but they are proportional to the rest of the scale, rather than being 60% or 70%. This makes the math more fair. In my classes I have experimented with treating noncompliance with assignments as a behavioral issue. If a student doesn't get his work done for my class he gets until the end of the day to get it to me or he will stay after to do it. You really need to have effective administrators on your side, because if a student blows you off, what will you do if you can't put them into the disciplinary system? This has worked pretty well for the last two years and I don't have to use the policy much after the first month of school (they get the message).
When we assign zeroes we send the message that it is OK to not do what we assign if they are comfortable with the consequences. Unfortunately there are students who are totally comfortable with those consequences. When I keep a student after school, I am telling him that this is important enough for me to make you do it, even if I have to sit with you.
We expect our students to make good decisions, but a lot of kids aren't capable of that on our time frame. Rather than pulling off the training wheels before they are ready I try to support them as long as they show they need it. Usually it doesn't take them long to figure out that it is better to do it in their own way. Sorry about the length.

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