Fair Grades, Dropping Grades, Grading Versus Knowledge

Advice From a Student Assessment Researcher About What is Fair and Unfair in Today's Grading Systems

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.

Fair Grading according to research

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 [email protected]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.

Should we drop grades

Should we be averaging grades? Picture by Thomas Guskey

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5 thoughts on “Fair Grades, Dropping Grades, Grading Versus Knowledge

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. You might be interested in my paper:

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

  3. 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.