Fair Grading according to research

Fair Grades, Dropping Grades, Grading Versus Knowledge

With almost 9,000 downloads and counting, this show is the most popular episode on Every Classroom Matters in 2016 so far. Dr. Thomas Guskey shares the current research on “fair” grading and what teachers should be doing instead. This show came from the “averaging grades” graphic (shown at the bottom) that he posted on Twitter asking if it is “fair” to average grades.

Thomas talks about fairness, clearly defining a grade and why sometimes we should change how we grade to reflect mastery at the end of a course. Is a grade reflecting their average ability over time or their mastery and competency at the end?

Thomas also reflects upon those teachers who never drop grades and when it may be right or wrong to do so. How do we determine what the most valuable evidence a teacher has that determines student competency at the end of the course? Why we need multiple forms of evidence to determine grades. He discusses the challenge of end of grading period and how to make our grading better at that time.

Would other professionals looking at the same body of evidence come up with the same grade?  Thomas also talks about percentages and the flaws in the system that makes it hard for teachers to have consistent judgments on student work.

Who is Thomas Guskey?

Thomas Guskey@tguskey is Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. His research focuses on on professional development and teacher change, program evaluation, assessment of student learning, grading and reporting, instructional effectiveness, and educational reform.

[callout]Listen on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher [/callout]

Should we drop grades

Should we be averaging grades? Picture by Thomas Guskey

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Mark E March 26, 2016 - 2:10 pm

Interesting. I don’t totally agree but I do think the problems that edu faces are not going to come from people that have spent their entire life in schools but from people totally outside of that world.

Vicki Davis April 11, 2016 - 4:34 am

Well it is kind of like saying that the best innovations in surgery are going to happen when average everyday people start operating on themselves. While certainly doctors can learn from outside their field, they are the ones doing it. Likewise, educators are the ones innovating and doing amazing things if you just take a look.

Daryl Close May 10, 2016 - 3:30 pm

You might be interested in my paper:

Close, Daryl. 2009. “Fair Grades.” Teaching Philosophy 32:4, December.

Vicki Davis May 11, 2016 - 7:15 pm


Lisa Ramirez ISLC September 13, 2016 - 6:32 pm

Fairness is how we define the grade; what the student knows, development, mastery of standards, and what students are able to do. It’s not just from one single assignment, task, assessment, and demonstration.


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