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Grading Issues – Positions, Rationales, Alternatives

Developing Grading and Reporting Systems

Thomas R. Guskey & Jane Bailey

Issue Position (& pages) Rationale Alternatives

Grading effort Should be reported, not graded Bias can come into play. Does not Separate reporting system
(60-63) communicate is
Grading Should be reported, not graded Bias can come into play. Does not Separate reporting system
participation (59-63) communicate is
Grading behavior Should be reported, not graded Bias can come into play. Does not Separate reporting system
(33,51,60-61, 144-45) communicate is
Multiple attempts Pro Looking for mastery, not whether we Mastery Teaching Model
at mastery Mastery Learning Advocate can “catch them” at the right time on There does need to be “an end”, but
(27, 31-32,96-103) the right day. Best attempt should be along w/ multiple attempts must be
recorded. multiple methods of instruction for
success in meeting standards.
Grading practice Evaluated, not graded It is practice. This should help direct May add small % to assessments, ie,
(homework) (59, 61-62, 185-186) instruction, working toward mastery. 1-2% points for each completed
homework assignment added on to
the final assessment (his idea for
extra credit/bonus)
Grading formative May be graded, but not necessary for This, too, should direct instruction.
assessments learning Formative assessments should
(22, 31-32, 49-50, 97-98, 100) provide feedback to students and
Offering multiple Pro Not failing grades, but helping
forms of students achieve.
Extra credit and Neutral Should add to instruction, should not Consider the assessment material if
bonus points (from presentation) change achievement grade—but can bonus/ec material show learned
inform. See ‘grading homework’. knowledge of standard
Con Does encourage group work and
Group grades (from presentation) support for learning, but not
assessing that learning—should be
individually assessed.
Guskey & Bailey, page 2
Issue Position (& pages) Rationale Alternatives
Grading on a curve Con (27, 36-38, 43, 138) One of the most questionable
(Much more in…Ahead of the Curve practices in teaching…does not
©2007, Leading Edge Publication address what student learned but
Douglas Reeves, PhD. ; Guskey is a compares against others. Huge levels
contributing author) of cheating, not working productively
with others.
Accepting late Pro If it is valuable for learning…it should If it’s not important enough to be
work (60) be accepted. completed, it shouldn’t be assigned.
If it is important, it should be
completed, even if under supervision
at school
Grading late work Pro May take small (1-2) percentages off, Grades have value as rewards, but no
(60) but should not affect communication value as punishments.
of learning (grade) All work should be scored or receive
feedback; not all needs to be included
in the grade
Zeros for missing Con One of most questionable practices in If it’s not done well, it’s not done.
work (143-144) teaching…punishing behavior instead I=Incomplete
of supporting learning. The math After school time, due first thing next
doesn’t make sense. day, etc.
Some high schools are now using a
mandatory time (before/after school)
for completion of work; this takes
funding/staff support
Allowing revisions Pro Yes…we should be developing talent, Compare to attaining Dr. Lic.
and retakes (96-103) not selecting talent.
Averaging grades Con Communication of standards met…not Mode or median, drop the lowest;
(140-143) how or how long to get there. most recent evidence


The greatest need in grading/reporting system in a school district is consensus and consistency. They are essential
for accurately communicating learning of students.

In the text, Developing Grading and Reporting Systems…Guskey & Bailey look at the advantages and
disadvantages, as well as bringing much research into the discussion – action research, not the research of
someone theorizing in an office “somewhere out there.”