Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Like Making Sausages

Grading isn't a pretty process. Maybe slightly prettier than making sausages, but not much.

Over at the Morton School, progress reports are due, and instead of using a standardized form like we've done in years past, teachers are being asked to submit itemized lists of assignments, grades, point values, and current averages. I wonder, not idly, if this verges into the realm of Too Much Information (TMI).

Some teachers go strictly by the numbers, I suppose, but I've found that most teachers don't, and indeed we are discouraged to do so. All kinds of extenuating circumstances are suggested, some warranted, some not.

I do have my grades posted and regularly available to students and their families online, which is my own choice, and I find that this is valuable for two reasons: It's a way for parents to keep tabs on their kids' work as often as they like, and it keeps me on top of my grading. If a few days go by without an assignment being graded, kids tend to whine and it pushes me to git-R-done. If I make a mistake, the kids can spot it; if a kid complains about a grade, I can simply point to the numbers and shrug.

I do worry about my grading a great deal. I'm not blind to the many effects grades have on students, and I try to grade fairly and consistently. If anything, I err on the side of generosity with final grades, if I feel that the situation warrants it.

But I'm dreading these progress reports going home. I expect to have 20some e-mails from parents who never bothered to check up on their kids until now complaining about some missed homework from early November that I never notified them about. I know that a rational response is that this information has been available to them since the first day of the school year. But since fewer than half of my kids and their families registered for the website, I know that most of them never bother to look, either.

I'm bracing for a couple of ugly days after these reports go home.
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