Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grades always make me thinks too much - take two

Goal of the week: to get the list of goals for my masters degree program so I can get going on the actual list instead of coming up with my own. My graduate adviser never showed up yesterday so I'm wondering what happened with that.

Today's topic: Grades. They are the bane of my existence. I want to teach but the powers that be insist that I tell them how well, down to within one percentage point, I think everyone has learned. Frankly, I don't care. I know that probably makes me a bad teacher.

It's not that I don't care how well my students learn. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I keep awake at night worrying if my students are learning what they are supposed to be learning and if they are learning it well enough and in the right way. I just don't see why I need or have to give them percentage grades. I think that takes away the meaning from the learning and puts it on the point system.

I only care about if they have learned what the State has told me that I need to teach them. I see it as this: have they learned what they are supposed to learn, have they done better than average, worse than average, far superior work, far inferior work. Those are the marks. They correspond to the: A, B, C, D, F grading system. I don't really care about pluses or minuses. I see it as this: have you learned what you were supposed to learn? Yes or no? How well (or badly)?

I need to redo my grading system to reflect this. I spend hours of my life calculating pointless grades down to infinitesimal percentage points to answer a question that can quickly be answered with an assessment.

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