Updated: Sep 7

I finished my grades and comments. I think I suck at this. - sorry students, I am trying.

A kid gets a poor grade because they can't understand or apply a concept. Later, they figure it out and receive a better grade. Do you give them an A for achieving the knowledge or should you keep the first grade and create an average of how they did over time?

What is a grade? An average of some subjective weighting of multiple indicators such as homework, participation, written tests, attendance, etc.

Does the percentage reflect how much content is known?

You learned 86% of the material presented.

"Prove it," says the student.

I better have indicators.

Are we in an age where specificity is a requirement? How much subjectivity is acceptable? Could you prove it?

What are the indicators that allow you to make an accurate assessment of a student's progress?

What information is really needed to convey progress?

Progress in any discipline is directly related to the student's learning skills or habits. You can take this a step further and say that progress can be determined by several transferable skills; collaboration, communication of all forms, problem solving skills, etc. Could we, or should we have a set of standards for learning and then report on the % of these skills that are present in a student? Would this put the emphasis on learning?

You have acquired 80% of the standard skills needed for learning effectively.

You have learned 80% of the content that was required to master the topics of study

You have and 80% based on a combination of your tests, quizzes, participation, attendance and lab work.

Which of the above would serve as the most important feedback if you had to pick?

Which method would provide the most potential to increase knowledge?

If I had to pick, I would want to have specifics on how can I learn more effectively. If I get specific feedback that allows me to be able to modify my behavior or thinking patterns, I will then have the tools to learn more of the material. It is a matter of where you place your initial focus for feedback or self reflection. I think we think that we are assessing content knowledge but in reality our practice is an average of many factors. Shouldn't we re-think this a bit?

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Neil and Julie Freebern 

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