7 Reasons Why It’s Okay that I’m Not Evaluating My Students Anymore

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

Research Tidbit for Busy Teachers: Inoue’s Anti-Racist Writing Assessment Ecologies

This post was also published on The Paper Graders.

Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future by Asao B. Inoue, 2015, Parlor Press

I was so glad to come across this book when I was finishing up my manuscript over the summer. (Look for Point-Less: An English Teacher’s Guide to More Meaningful Grading from Heinemann, available March 31!)

Read More

Our Most Important Conversation: Equity

This post was also published in The Paper Graders.

This post has been percolating for a while now, ever since I left NCTE in Houston.

Until now, all I’ve been able to cobble together so far are a few disconnected notes in my writer’s notebook:

  • I need to sit with my discomfort.
  • I’m a teacher with privilege OF privileged
  • What can I do?
  • What does it mean to be a good ally?
  • I can’t be so terrified that I’ll mess something up that I don’t even start.
  • When I don’t actively disrupt, I perpetuate.
  • I thought I got it, that I understood the issues. But I have so much to learn.

That last one is the one that’s been nagging at me most.

See, I’m writing a book right now. I’ve been working on it–with the care of a very patient, supportive, and insightful editor–for about 3 and a half years. It’s about grading practices that support readers and writers better than the typical percentage/points-based approach.

Read More