The discussion that has come up in my department at school this week revolves around whether or not we should require a "C" for students to be recommended continue on to the next language course. The problem is that since our grades are all made up of different pieces and parts, a "C" in one teacher's class does not equal a "C" in another teacher's class. I am sure we are not unique in experiencing this.
I am a big proponent of teacher autonomy. I do not think that we all need to do things exactly the same in order for our students to be successful - including composing our grades in exactly the same manner. I do think, however, that this is a conversation worth having and a topic worth some self-reflection.
I took a good hard look at myself a few years back and asked myself the question "what are grades supposed to mean"? In my mind, a grade is supposed to reflect the level of mastery a student has achieved, not how responsible they are. I decided, as a result, to eliminate points for anything that was not directly related to mastery.
Here are the "rules" I came up with for myself:
1. No points for effort/participation - effort and participation are an expectation but they do not indicate mastery
2. No points for homework or classwork that is not graded for correctness
3. No extra credit
4. Students can earn more points (up to 100%) if they can re-take an assessment and demonstrate improved mastery
5. Award points equivalent to percentage of time that a skill is practiced in class - there are 6 skill areas that we learn the language through; interpretive listening, interpretive reading, presentational writing, presentational speaking, interpersonal speaking, and culture. Here is my breakdown based on what percentage of my class time I dedicate to work on each skill.
Interpretive Reading - 20%
Interpretive Listening - 20%
Presentational Speaking - 20%
Interpersonal Speaking - 10%
Presentational Writing - 20%
Culture - 10%
Every teacher and every course is different, and I think that is alright as long as the teacher is assigning grades according to what he/she believes is important and valuable for students.
How do you compose your grades? Leave a comment below and let us know!