Introduction method in which we have been grading needs

Introduction

Everything
in great deal known about the standard grading system is measured in points and
numbers. If a student scores exceptionally well then, the score is an A, and if
the student scores very poorly then the score is an F, with the relevant ranges
in between. The method in which we have been grading needs to be reconsidered
for its many flaws and antiquated uses. The way in which points are given and
rewarded due to many tedious and rules that cause unnecessary work for both the
student and the teacher.  This system
forces most students that its essentially a points game, and to attempt to
maximize points as best as possible, with little regard for the work itself.
Grades are also given little regard by those that employ the graduating
students, giving preference to the experience performed and relevant knowledge
of the student’s field. The grading system as we know it is old and broken,
offering little benefit other than the minimal pass and fail mechanism needed
to allow students the next step in progress of their field. According to
Wiggins, “the
current typical report card and grading system is incapable of telling us what
honesty and fairness demand we should know about inherently complex performance:
how the student is doing against standards and relative to reasonable
expectations” (Wiggins, G.P, pg xv).
While most do not think of an alternative, there are. In
the name of progress and reform, some of these alternatives must be explored
and reexamined for the benefit of future educational methods and maximum gain
school’s administrator’s, teacher’s, and student’s time.

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Current Situation

“There
are some aspects of teaching that we keep in

cages
in hopes they will never escape. . . .We don’t

share
our concerns with our own grading approach

or
that of a colleague’s often, and we don’t spend

time
with each other determining the meaning of

a
C, an A, or discussing what constitutes a 3.5 on

a
rubric. . . . The day is upon us, however. It’s time

to  talk  about 
grades,  grading,  and 
report  cards

openly,
if we haven’t before, questioning assump-

tions,
embracing alternatives, and focusing on the

promise  of 
what  teaching  and 
learning  can  be. ”

(Wormeli,
R., 89–90)

Many
experiments have been conducted in the study of our current education system
and its flaws and benefits. Among these experiments, Jeanetta Miller highlights
one of these experiments from Douglas B. Reeves in her scholarly article. Upon
his findings and final conclusions, he noted that “As this experiment
demonstrates, the difference between failure and the honor roll often depends
on the grading policies of the teacher. To reduce the failure rate, schools
don’t need a new curriculum, a new principal, new teachers, or new technology.
They just need a better grading system” (Miller,
J. J., pg 112).

Assume
the following scenario: Student A receives their report card and upon opening
it, they show that they have all A’s. Student A does all their homework, and is
considered the typical responsible student. They struggle a bit, however, on
exams. Student B is the opposite. They receive their report card, and notice
C’s, D’s and one F. Student B has scored high on tests in all subjects, and has
demonstrated a competent understanding of the content, but proved to be lazy in
class and did not turn in homework. When faced with this example, we must truly
wonder what grades mean. How should students be graded and what should their
relevance and importance be in schools? The
reality is that grades can mean many things. 
To receive good grades like student A could mean that the student worked
responsibly and completed all assignments and performed sufficiently on exams.
But it could also suggest that this student knew the material prior to taking
the course and received high grades but did not really learn anything from the
class itself. It could be a case of grade inflation. It might mean grade
inflation. It may reflect a few specific assignments or a dozen assigned
previous grades, all ultimately depending on the teacher’s manner of
calculating.  There are many reasons why
grades can be calculated. This example happens countless times in many
situations in many schools, and it begs the question, Is the grade an accurate
representation of whether the student has learned anything?

This is exactly the problem with the
current grading system. It does not concentrate on whether the student has learned
and comprehended the material as much as it shows the amount of points the
student accumulated and achieved within the course itself, which is largely
marginal and irrelevant in comparison. Teachers devote too much time focusing
and discussing grades and points with parents and teachers, which inevitably
takes time away discussion of actual learning of the student or other
potentially beneficial conversations. Another issue with the dependence on the
grading system and the need for grades is the underlying idea that grades are
an important motivating factor for students. To utilize grades as a threat or
reward for finishing or not finishing homework is what is known as extrinsic,
or external, motivation. This type of motivation generally causes a decreased
focus on learning, and more of a focus of the grades themselves. In schools
where the importance of grades is heavily pushed, the truth is that students
will usually choose the quickest and simplest way to achieve high grades,
rather than challenge themselves mentally, creatively, or meaningfully. Most
students will want to learn if they are given a truly exciting and challenging learning
environment and experience.  Unfortunately,
the pushing of grade competition and pursuance of the highest grades is heavily
intertwined in the system.

Project Plan

Let us propose another idea. A system where
all assignments and exams as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, or pass or fail.
Instead of a wide range, a more simple approach. Students would either achieve all
of the points associated with the provided assignments, or none of them at all.
This would all depend on the specifications that the teacher created and designed
for the students. This type of grading is what Dr. Linda B. Nilson describes as
Specifications grading, or Specs grading. We can think of the specs as a one-dimensional
teaching rubric. In her book, she describes it this way:

“You may find it useful to view specs
grading as a system based on a onelevel rubric with one criterion, but with
that criterion being able to incorporate multiple requirements. Therefore, only
one description is necessary as long as it incorporates all the required
qualities. Only if a student’s work has all of those qualities is it
acceptable/satisfactory. As competency-based education shows us, outcomes
assessment is inherently a pass/fail, satisfactory/ unsatisfactory proposition
based on a one-level rubric. Specs grading, then, aligns well with outcomes assessment,
more tightly than rubrics do, and it holds students to high standards. As long
as a course has multiple assessment instruments, and virtually all courses do,
it can still generate a range of letter grades in the end. In effect, all the
pass/fail grading systems for program completion and assignments and tests
described in chapter 4 rely on specs grading. As with rubrics, specs grading
should not assess a work on every possible requirement we can conceive of. We
should reserve this comprehensive standard for judging the scholarly work of
our colleagues. For our students, we should carefully select a limited number
of requirements that are really important for them to focus on and for us to
assess in a particular assignment or test”.

 (Nilson, L. B., & Stanny, C. J., Pg
58).