Friday, March 17, 2017

Rethinking Grading as Instruction: Rejecting the Error Hunt and Deficit Practices | radical eyes for equity

Rethinking Grading as Instruction: Rejecting the Error Hunt and Deficit Practices | radical eyes for equity:

Rethinking Grading as Instruction: Rejecting the Error Hunt and Deficit Practices

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As a first-year English teacher, I joined the department of the high school where I had graduated only five years earlier, becoming a colleague with teachers who had taught me. That introduction to the field allowed me behind the curtain, and one of those secrets was being handed a sheet that detailed every grammar and mechanics error students were likely to make in their writing and the amount of points to be deducted from their grade (writing was assigned the traditional content/grammar grade then).
One fragment, by the way, was an immediate deduction that resulted in an F in grammar.
This was department policy, and my efforts to navigate that system were akin to Sisyphus, his rock, and that damned mountain.
Since then, well over thirty years ago, I have become a non-grader, but I also have investigated and adopted concepts about grading (since we all at some point must grade) that I believe are incredibly important in the context of seeing grading (and feedback) as a part of instruction—and not something we do to students and their work after we teach.
A  teacher recently asked on NCTE’s Connected Community about subtracting points for grammar in student writing, and this is an ideal entry point to rethink how grading (especially of writing) sends instructional messages to our students.
My first caution is about a serious flaw with traditional grading that is grounded in viewing assessment situations in a deficit model whereby we have students start with an unearned 100 points from which we subtract credit by identifying errors. This fosters an atmosphere of risk aversion—which is not a healthy environment for developing literacy.
Specifically when teaching writing, we must abandon the “error hunt” (see Weaver, et al., and Lois Matz Rosen).
Therefore, we can send a much healthier message about student performances of learning if we acknowledge that students begin Rethinking Grading as Instruction: Rejecting the Error Hunt and Deficit Practices | radical eyes for equity:


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