Many teachers spend hours arguing with students and parents about final grades every term. Grading discrepancies happen when a student, expecting a high score, gets surprised by a sudden drop. With no more time to correct the issue with extra credit or in-class assignments, they often consider arguing to be their only path left. When students can’t see their progress and performance throughout the year, they may not realize how low their grade has fallen. Even when students realize they are at-risk, they rarely share the information with parents. If the grade drop happened after mid-terms, parents might not find out about a failing grade until the final report card hits the mail. However, one straightforward and elegant solution to grade shock is improved transparency.
What Is Grading Transparency?
For a lot of parents, the focus on transparency comes from a desire for a more fair system. Parents want to make sure their child is being graded along the same lines as every other student. With grading policies that include intangibles like classroom participation, though, it can be difficult to ensure that every grade is “fair.” From an administrative standpoint, transparency gives each grade added validity. Teachers can point to cumulative cause and effect for each resulting grade. Added transparency doesn’t have to remove the subjectivity of grading, but it should communicate grade changes more quickly and clearly.
How Does Grade Transparency Work?
In a system where parents and students have near-instant access to grades, they can see test results, scores on essay assignments and areas where a student is under performing. There is no need to wait for mid-terms to address a problem or deal with grade shock at the end of the year. Instead, parents can instantly identify problem areas and work with teachers to create a plan for bringing grades back up.
Many independent schools already have online grading in place. At the beginning of the year, instructors upload a list of everything that students are expected to turn in during the term. That list might include major projects, tests, quizzes, homework assignments, classwork and anything else that can affect a final grade. Some schools include attendance as part of the final score. With everything clearly posted, kids can see where they are on their way to a passing score or what they need to do to bring their grade up to an A. By laying things out clearly – teachers show students exactly what they need to do to earn their desired grade.
Transparency = Communication
When parents and students can see their current average grade, it gives them the motivation to communicate directly with instructors. Parents will be more diligent about getting their children to complete their homework assignments when they can see every missed assignment. Parents can also see assignments and due dates ahead of time, helping them keep students on task throughout the semester. By giving parents and students greater access to grading as it happens, you avoid the end-of-the-year rush of missed assignments. Seeing grades help improve the otherwise adversarial relationship that can often develop between parents and school administrators. Instead, all of the adults in the situation can work toward their shared goal: student achievement.
Benefits of Mobile Grading
Giving students and parents the ability to access grading while on-the-go has direct performance-based applications in engagement and achievement. Consider the advantages for a child who misses school. A virus or flu can keep a child out of the classroom for a week or more, leaving them struggling to catch up on missed assignments. With mobile grading, kids can see assignments as they go out and complete them at home. This reduces the amount of missed work and helps avoid last-minute cramming. It also lets sick kids keep up with material so that they can be ready for testing on schedule.
Poor time management is another issue faced by many students. Some kids have trouble turning in assignments until they realize the direct consequences if they fail to do so. A student who can see, immediately, the effect of a missed grade on their total GPA is more motivated to get an assignment in. No child goes to school with the desire to fail. By giving them access to real-time grades, you give them the tools to avoid the consequences of procrastination.
Remember the Purpose of Grades
As administrators, too often the focus at the end of the year is the grade, not what the grade is intended to measure. A grade should be a measurement of retained information and learning, not an arbitrary score based on personality and hard work. Grades should be objective but are so often measured with subjective things like participation. Teachers are pressured to avoid failing students, while parents are always looking for a higher grade for their children. Transparency addresses several issues:
– Minimizes subjective grading policies.
– Ensures early notification of failing grades.
– Opens up direct lines of communication between parents and educators.
– Helps reduce grade inflation.
When parents, students, teachers and administrators all see the information as it becomes available, it becomes easier to address problems. There are fewer delays in scheduling needed conferences, and students are more likely to reach out to teachers when they’re available through messaging or email. By using a grading app and making the results available to everyone involved in the process, you achieve transparency and improve student outcomes.
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