Like many English teachers, grading essays remains the part of my job that I enjoy the least. It isn’t just because of the time it consumes or the drudgery it involves. It’s because I’m afraid I’m going to do harm to a student writer under my care.
Years ago, my oldest son was in my sophomore honors English class filled with many of his friends. These were kids I had watched grow up since the second grade, kids who spent time at my house, played in my backyard, making crazy zombie movies that disturbed the neighbors, and now traveled with us to debate tournaments early on Saturday mornings. Perhaps because of my long connection to this group of kids, I put extra effort into grading these students’ essays, spending many Saturdays marking errors and giving copious feedback while I waited to judge rounds at debate tournaments. I knocked myself out for these kids.
During the month of April, we will examine the place that assessment has in the lives of both educators and students. Keep this question in mind as you view, read, and share thoughts from this month's content: In what ways can we assess what we value? Today's post by Katherine Bomer is from Heinemann's Digital Library.
by Katherine Bomer
What About Grades?
Most of us can relate to the anxiety around this question. Unfortunately, we must confront required grading and testing even as we still try to open up possibilities of teaching writing. There is a disconnect between what we know to be powerful teaching and what the current politicized education system tells us to do to measure learning with rubrics, numbers, and letters in the name of holding teachers accountable for teaching and students accountable for learning.