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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:
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.