Friday, July 13, 2012

"It's important to understand you cannot place a test score or grade on a human experience."

Hey Danielle,

That line from your last post really stuck out to me, it was my hotspot, and a sign of a struggle I've been having in my own teaching. I've been developing my middle school reading and writing workshop for a few years now, and while I think there are some ways that improvements can be made, I also feel that there is a solid foundation that I can believe in. There is an authenticity in the work we do in my class- we are real writers and readers doing to work of real writers and readers. Students who choose to engage in their own learning as active participants. They quickly learn to get over whether their work pleases me, and start to develop an understanding of what it means for their work to please them personally. Things are great in this respect. But then there's the issue of grading, which is only getting worse with the addition of high stakes assessments, common formative quarterly assessments, SLOs, and my impending ranking in comparison to my peers. 

My principal is supportive of innovation and trying to develop alternative ways of "doing school", but I have yet to be able to approach him about developing some kind of different way to "do grades".  I guess what troubles me so much is that in light of the relationship I am trying to develop with my students- one that puts my approval second to their own approval of their work, I don't feel comfortable being the "gatekeeper" of the grades. It seems to undermine the roles I want us to each take on.

So what's the answer? Do I let them tell me what their grades should be? Do I just opt for a default "pass/fail" (put in the effort get a 95, put in nothing get a 60?) What do grades really mean in a middle school? What is there purpose? What do they promote? What do they hinder?

I know there is a burning question in here, and that I need to do more research. I wonder who has been working with alternatives to assessment and trying to find an assessment system that honors a collaborative, authentic learning environment in the age of the Common Core. I'd love to leave SI this year with a proposal for alternative assessment to try next year.

Thanks for reading!


  1. There is a burning question here and this is it's own hot spot! I think if you can really answer this, you will be the super teacher! I am struggling with the same issue. How do I measure progress in this kind of environment in my classroom. What does that look like? I'm happy to go on this journey with you. Thanks for the

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