Managing Grades

It’s Not Too Late to Modify Grading Guidelines

Four approaches to grading revolutionized my planning and grading for teaching middle, high school and college students.

The first occurred after I spent a summer studying and then implementing National Writing Project strategies that include process writing and rubrics, which I customized for individual assignments.  See samples here  And planning time for in-class peer feedback on process assignments. See sample organization guidelines here.

The second is designing and including an assessment sheet with each big assignment and allotting time for students to self-check before submitting assignments for grading.

The third is beginning each course sharing and then sticking to general grading guidelines.  See sample here.

The fourth is gradually increasing the weight of big assignments.  At the start of the year, big assignments (processed papers and projects on which students have time to plan, get peer feedback and revise) were not weighted heavily enough to “kill” a report card grade.  Similar high standards can be given for each assignment, but students have time to see the standards, get feedback on their performance, and seldom are so discouraged that they stop trying.  I generally plan about 500 points per marking period.  Daily work completed on time earns full credit.    Regular check-up quizzes graded in class by students, worth 10-50 points. Both serve as practice for them and formative assessments for me.

For example:

  • First quarter: Processed papers/projects/presentations = 30 points
  • Second quarter: Processed papers/projects/presentations= 50 points
  • Third quarter: Processed papers/projects/presentations= 75 points
  • Fourth quarter: Processed papers/projects/presentations= 100 points

As a speech coach, I understand the value of planning and presenting speeches as a means getting students to think about audience, and probably are comfortable evaluating oral presentations.  I encourage you to include oral presentations as often as they are an authentic way for students to practice what you’re teaching and for you to measure what they’re learning.  They are a terrific way for students to learn from one another while developing a skill they’ll need for a lifetime.  Here’s link to sample speech feedback form.


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