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Rating Performance on Assessment Activities

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Grading is not Assessment

Grading and assessment must be clearly distinguished in order to fully realize the potential of formative assessments. We use the term assessment strictly to refer to examining the degree to which learning goals are attained. Grading, on the other hand, is a process of assigning ranks, scores, letter grades, etc. to students (in the English system these are referred to as ‘marks’ (Black, 1998). Typically these scores are the number or percent right on a test (or some scaled equivalent), thus information on the degree to which specific learning goals were attained is lost. The value of grades for motivational purposes is questionable (Stiggins, 2005), as is their educational value (Zachos, Research Bulletin article).

We recommend that teachers use information about student attainment only to guide instructional planning. If grading is required for some administrative purpose, give grades to students based on the degree to which they meet the work specifications given by the teacher (e.g., completing all portions of the assessment form).

The benefits of not grading student attainment on the assessment include:

  • We find out what the student really thinks and believes instead of what he or she thinks will get a high grade from the teacher
  • We protect the student’s relationship with nature and the phenomenon from being corrupted by the grading process.
  • We present an antidote to the presence of fear in the educational setting

Black, Paul and Dylan Wiliam. (1998) Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment. Phi Delta Kappan Website 80(2)

Stiggins, Richard J. (2005). Student-Involved Assessment for Learning

Zachos, Paul. (2004). Discovering the True Nature of Educational Assessment. Research Bulletin 9(2). The Research Institute for Waldorf Education.

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