Teachers, Caution! Don’t Let Test Grading Get You Into Trouble

non dual teachers written by a math teacher that should have pleased me since it was about Algebra. The article was directed at 9th grade Algebra students. The author was offering suggestions that he said would “definitely” raise their personal test scores. I was expecting to find academic study suggestions that really would have a positive impact on student test results. What I found instead was actually insulting to teacher integrity. My first thought was that no teacher would do “this” anymore. In the “old days” it happened. But, surely, it wouldn’t happen in today’s world. Then I remembered a statement I have made to so many others. DON’T ASSUME. Thus, a look a test grading procedures is in order.

First, a look at the instructions this teacher was giving these freshmen students:

1. Get on the teacher’s “Good Side.” Then the teacher will give you a better grade. An A- instead of a B+.

2. Show lots of work even if you don’t know what you are doing. The teacher will give you “effort points.” In addition, students were advised to leave no blank answers because, again, the teacher would give “effort points.”

3. Be neat. The teacher will give you “extra points.” Being neat will put you on the teacher’s “Good Side” which will always improve your score.

4. Keep pestering your teacher to find out what is on the test. Pester your teacher for several days. You will learn more each time.

5. Always simplify your answers. Note: this is not an awful suggestion. It just isn’t always required. Students should ask first. Simplifying might be time wasted if it isn’t required.

6. Be very good in class. Your teacher will give you a higher grade if you behave in class. Maybe a 70 rather than a 69.

Even as I write this, I am absolutely stunned to think that any teacher in this day and age would grade so subjectively or be so easily manipulated. My next thought was to check to see if one of my former teachers had written the article. I had a couple teachers who were coaches who thought any boy on the team deserved extra credit. I’m still having flashbacks to some really terrible teachers.

ATTENTION ALL TEACHERS! Your test grading must NOT be subjective. The grade must reflect what the students know-not what you want to give them. You must be able to justify every single point to every parent. Parents are much more involved in their children’s education now days. You simply cannot give any appearance of favoring one student over another, or worse-being viewed as racist in your test grading procedures.

How can you be sure that your grading procedure is as fair as you think it is? You must grade by a rubric. A rubric (I don’t like the word either, but the concept is important) is simply an explanation to yourself on how to assign points on the test or project,or even homework. Before you grade the first paper, you decide on the point system you will use. Then write it down. I will give more details in a moment. You may make the rubric be any way you want, but then you must use it without fail. You must be consistent.

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