Report Cards: Waukesha group suggests changes in grading

Amy Hetzner:

After more than two years of study, a group of Waukesha educators has drafted a set of guidelines that challenge some traditional notions of grading.
Among the recommendations:

  • Removing evaluations of student participation, effort, attendance and behavior from academic results.
  • Ending the use of zeros for late or unfinished work, a “potentially damaging practice in a 100 point scale,” in favor of other methods that motivate students to complete their assignments.
  • Allowing homework used for practice or preparation to account for no more than 10% of a grade, with project work getting more weight.
  • Replacing averages, which allow single grades to skew final class assessments, with medians, which more accurately reflect a student’s overall class performance, in final grades.

School District officials stress that the guidelines, which are in the midst of being distributed to principals and teachers and go before a School Board committee today, are just that – guidelines. They insist the district is not interested in mandating universal changes to how teachers assign grades, often considered among a teacher’s most personal tasks.

I’ve heard from local parents again concerned about the lack of data in some Madison elementary school report cards. Several 2006 posts addressed this issue: Can We Talk 3: 3rd Quarter Report Cards; Mary Kay Battaglia, an Elvejhem Parent via Ruth Robarts and Thoreau parents.