One last thing…

“A teacher should not give grades”


Marco Visscher | June 2005 issue

What’s wrong with giving grades? We’ve done so for many generations.

“Putting a grade on a paper implies that the work is done instead of providing feedback about how to improve it. I refuse to let my students be ‘done.’ I believe we need to create situations where students learn to care about what they produce. This means creating meaningful, important assignments that students want to do. Giving grades, which are simply the ‘wages’ students earn for their ‘labour,’ is not the way to do this.”

But how can teachers measure their students’ performances?

“I’m looking at what students in my writing classes have learned. I have a list of criteria for good writing, which the students know. If they don’t meet these criteria, I don’t penalize them. Instead, I ask them to rewrite their pieces, and I keep going over the criteria until they can meet them. Any teacher can do this.

Do your students feel uncomfortable without grades?

“It’s the students who work for grades who are uncomfortable. That’s because they want to know they were the best in the class. Students who lack basic skills and are usually at a disadvantage are less likely to feel nervous about being ‘ungraded.’ In the end, they all understand that everyone gets better because everyone gets suggestions about how to improve their performance.”

How do you justify the lack of any sort of system?

“I believe my system is quite rigorous. A basketball coach rarely says to a player, ‘You made an error, next game you’re out!’ Instead, the coach and the team watch videotapes of the game and analyze what happened so that players can improve their skills. This is exactly what needs to happen in schools. Students need to be told what they are doing right and wrong so that they can avoid old mistakes and move on to the next draft.”

Solution News Source

One last thing…

“A teacher should not give grades”


Marco Visscher | June 2005 issue

What’s wrong with giving grades? We’ve done so for many generations.

“Putting a grade on a paper implies that the work is done instead of providing feedback about how to improve it. I refuse to let my students be ‘done.’ I believe we need to create situations where students learn to care about what they produce. This means creating meaningful, important assignments that students want to do. Giving grades, which are simply the ‘wages’ students earn for their ‘labour,’ is not the way to do this.”

But how can teachers measure their students’ performances?

“I’m looking at what students in my writing classes have learned. I have a list of criteria for good writing, which the students know. If they don’t meet these criteria, I don’t penalize them. Instead, I ask them to rewrite their pieces, and I keep going over the criteria until they can meet them. Any teacher can do this.

Do your students feel uncomfortable without grades?

“It’s the students who work for grades who are uncomfortable. That’s because they want to know they were the best in the class. Students who lack basic skills and are usually at a disadvantage are less likely to feel nervous about being ‘ungraded.’ In the end, they all understand that everyone gets better because everyone gets suggestions about how to improve their performance.”

How do you justify the lack of any sort of system?

“I believe my system is quite rigorous. A basketball coach rarely says to a player, ‘You made an error, next game you’re out!’ Instead, the coach and the team watch videotapes of the game and analyze what happened so that players can improve their skills. This is exactly what needs to happen in schools. Students need to be told what they are doing right and wrong so that they can avoid old mistakes and move on to the next draft.”

Solution News Source

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