Guidelines for Grading in Standards-Based Systems (Research Summary by Ken O’Connor)

In his book “How to Grade for Learning”, Ken O’Connor sifts through the research on how to ensure that our grading systems maximize student learning in a systematic and strategic manner.  He offers 8 guidelines based on decades of research to help encourage student success.

8 Grading Guidelines to Support Learning and Encourage Student Success:

  1. Relate grading procedures to learning goals (i.e. standards).
  2. Use criterion-referenced performance standards as reference points to determine grades.
  3. Limit to valued attributes included in grades to individual achievement.
  4. Sample student performance – do not include all scores in grades.
  5. Grade in pencil – keep records so they can be updated easily.
  6. Crunch numbers carefully – if at all.
  7. Use assessment(s) and properly recorded  evidence of achievement.
  8. Discuss and involve students in assessment, including grading, throughout the teaching/learning process.

Although each of these guidelines are somewhat wordy, they are powerful in their application to our practice and implementation in the classroom.  The book goes on to explore each of these in detail with a lot of pages of research, case studies and templates for helping the interested professional really internalize what each of these guidelines really means in action.

Of particular interest is the final guideline of involving students in the assessment process.  John Hattie’s research synthesizing over 800 educational research meta-analysis (click here for a summary) found that self reported grading had the highest effect size (1.44, which is equivalent to over 3 times the average effect) on student learning of all influence factors across all studies.  Clearly, self reporting should be incorporated into every grading system inn some way.

If you are interested in exploring any of these areas in more depth see Jason for a copy of the book.


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