Monday, July 9, 2012

My initial thoughts regarding areas of research:

My initial proposal is not fleshed out yet, but this is what I have so far:

Throughout the educational system we often see an attempt to assign “blame” at a variety of factors when students are not successful. Legislators and community members blame teachers, high school can often point fingers at the middle school, middle school will point fingers at the elementary level, while elementary will look at the parents. In fact, throughout the system, fingers are often pointed at parents when children are not successful in school.

We need to engage parents more in understanding what their children are expected to learn and to help them understand how well their children are progressing toward those goals. I have seen some incredibly distressing practice in “grading” students, practices that are unfair to students, practices that parents don’t understand, that do not effectively communicate student learning to students or parents.

What methods can a district best use to effectively update grading practices that not only communicate progress to students and parents, but can also engage students in their own learning, and improve student learning?

• What is the real purpose of grades?
• What are current perceptions of the purpose of grades?
• What is the best way to assess and communicate student progress and growth?
• How do we move practitioners to better grading practices?
• What role does the principal play in moving faculty toward better assessment and grading practices?

I continue to ponder how to focus this large, emotional area.
One of my swirling thoughts is about "dispositions". So much has research been done in this area and I wonder why it's so hard to make systemic change....I do understand why it's hard for parents to grasp a new way of determining/measuring student growth.

I just wonder why it is so hard for some teachers to consider something different than the punitive, "gotcha" model. ("This assignment is 1 day late, you get a zero. I'm just preparing you for the 'real world' type of approach" if you didn't turn in your eligibility paperwork/grades on time, did you lose a day of pay? You mean that "real world"?)

So, more reading, more reflecting, more conversations with colleagues.


  1. Margo, I look forward to following your blog! I love being privy to "MargoLand" in all its glory! Best wishes in your new adventure!!

  2. Thank you Christine! And best wishes to you in yours!!

  3. I actually got to read your blog on grading. While I'm a lot more old school, as you know, I do agree there needs to be some improvement in the grading standards. If little Suzy has every thing come easy for her and would receive and "A" and little Sally has to struggle with the same assignment and puts every thing into her work, then even though it isn't perfect it would be obvious she has done "A" work also.

    Maybe for adults returning to school keep up the old way because we all grew up with it. Change over time possible, but we old dogs don't learn new tricks easy.

    1. Thank you for your reply! I appreciate your thinking. When you say that Sally has done "A" work also, what does that symbol "A" mean to you? Is it a measure of effort? Or an evaluation of material and skills learned? I think that's where we get confused, because not everyone interprets that "A" to mean the same thing. This is absolutely going to require LOTS of conversations with all stakeholders to ensure everyone has the same interpretation and understanding of what each symbol means.
      Thanks again for your comment!