Miss. Hillary Strain

So… What was my mark?

I recently read an article by the Edmonton Journal discussing a different type of grading method used by a high school teacher named Dave Martin. The article is entitled “No Percentage marks from a Red Deer math teacher” and is one that everyone should take the time to sit down and read. As, it’s quite interesting!

I started my journey of becoming a teacher 4 years ago and during the duration of my learning, each and every education class that I have taken has all directed back to the importance of assessment and constant feedback for our students. “It’s important to always be assessing your students and to make sure your marks are always up to date” they would say to us.  In the article, Dave Martin’s method of grading takes this to a whole new level. Martin has stopped giving his students marks on their assignments and exams, and instead uses comments encouraging students to fix their mistakes and retest their knowledge at a later time.  When I first read this, I was shocked and didn’t know what to think, as I grew up and am still used to knowing what my mark is and my success depends on the grade I get.  Now that I have taken some more advanced classes in my education career, I think that this is a great way to assess your students!  Lets face it,  students usually never pay attention to the feedback that you give to them on an assignment or test, they always just look for the grade written at the top of the page.  This is becoming a huge problem in my eyes because the students who are scoring lower aren’t really learning what they are suppose to be learning and they aren’t really getting anything from it.  They just look at the grade and feel bad about themselves and shove it in the back of their binder. Martin mentions, even the students receiving final grades of 70% technically haven’t mastered anything because they didn’t understand 30 percent of the material.

Dave Martin’s method of giving his students a grade only at the end of the school year carries many positives. Firstly, in order for students to gain an idea of how they’ve done on an assignment/exam, the comments are the only way to determine which areas they were successful and which areas need improvement.  This way, the students will be able to go in for extra help or concentrate on the area that they need help in to improve and be more successful next time. Secondly, by eliminating grades, you eliminate stress which can be very helpful in helping students succeed. The less amount of time students spend worrying about trying to get good grades, the more time they can spend making sure they actually understand the outcomes presented in the curriculum.

What do you all think?  Are you stuck on the number of the grade or are you wanting to get more feedback on how you can improve? What really is more important here?

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