Sunday, April 15, 2012

Are Grades Punishment?



mmazenko said...

Amazing. Just been having this discussion, as we have a summer reading assignment, and teachers have traditionally scheduled accountability assessments for the first week of school. For example, most give an objective "did-you-read-it" quiz on the second day, and schedule a longer written assessment later in the week.

Some have philosophical objection because hitting kids with a "gotcha" quiz on the second day "isn't good for kids." They worry about the kid who "didn't understand." Others argue that accountability is fair, and it's not good for kids to not assess them and make it count. Many kids who do read are bothered by those who don't if there is no accountability. They believe the quiz and assessments give them a chance to prove that they've learned and finished the tests.

Compromise is offered by some teachers who argue we still control the gradebook, and if we want to accommodate kids who struggle, we can, while still assessing and awarding kids points for achievement. It maintains the integrity of the assignment. Certainly, teachers must use formative and summative assessments. Grades provide feedback on learning and also maintain quality control in a classroom.

Everything after school will be "graded" in some way, and to deny that or shield kids is, in my opinion, not good for kids. Even opposing standardized testing is not reasonable when we know the kids will face the ACT/SAT. To not prepare them is actually negligible and irresponsible.

Grades can be punishment, to be sure. It's in the way that we use them. For an effective teacher, grades are not punishment. To claim so is to misunderstand our mandate.

Darren said...

On this we'll agree :-)

As an aside, I'm entirely, thoroughly against the very concept of summer reading assignments. Students aren't enrolled in classes over the summer because *school hasn't started yet*. I find such assignments to be inappropriate.