At the spring semester of 2013, I stopped evaluating my students’ work. Their final grades now reflect the growth students have achieved toward goals they set for themselves rather than mastery toward the standards that guide my curriculum.
I know this is better for students. I see it every day in their engagement, in the risks they take, in the choices they make so the work is meaningful and authentic. I see it in their lowered levels of stress, in their openness to trying something new, and in their willingness to challenge themselves with things they may have avoided in the past when there might be a grade penalty if things didn’t go very well.
Back in 2013, I chose growth over mastery as the focus of grades in my classroom because my students asked me to. It was unchartered territory for all of us. And off we went. But I worried because everything I had learned about grading told me that I must make sure my grades reflect student achievement and nothing else. Not effort. Not completion. Not attendance. Just clear, objective, achievement toward well-defined standards.
That’s not what my students wanted.Read More