Online resources to challenge our thinking about grading and assessment #education #assessment #grading

Over the past year, I’ve been investigating the history of grading as well as current and emerging approaches to assessment. As we come near the end of 2012, I thought that I would share fifteen of my favorite resources that are available online (everything from blog posts to peer-reviewed sources). Following that list is a short bibliography of additional peer-reviewed sources. From personal experience, I know that many of these make for great discussion starters.

  1. Rethinking Letter Grades – This post comes from a teacher at a school that was planning to move to a “no letter” grade policy in 2013.
  2. 12 Alternatives to Letter Grades – Regardless of your opinion about letter grades, this provides a variety of great feedback and assessment possibilities.
  3. Don’t Rely on Letter Grades – In this post, the “American English Doctor” shares a few thoughts about the limitations of letter grades.
  4. “E” is for Faith: How Come Schools Assign Grades of A, B.C.D, and F – but not E? – This is a reflection inspired by a school board choosing to remove the “D” and “F” and make anything below 70 a failing grade.
  5. Assessment: Turning a Blunt Instrument into a Powerful Learning Tool – Be sure to watch the video interview embedded in this post. If you are new to this discourse, be ready to pause the video and look up a number of valuable phrases in the assessment conversation, concepts like assessment as learning, attention literacy, contract grading, personalized assessments, assessing learning versus documenting learning, etc.
  6. Taking Back Teaching: A Forgotten History
  7. Grades, Grades, and More Grades!
  8. Imagining College Without Grades
  9. Colleges and Universities that Use Narrative Evaluations (Wikipedia Entry)
  10. Homeschool-Friendly Colleges and Universities that Don’t Give Grades
  11. A Brief History of Student Learning Assessment (PDF) _ This 48-page document comes from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. While it focuses upon higher education, many of the concepts apply across grade levels.
  12. The History of Grading Practices (PDF)- This 1971 journal article from Measurement in Education appears to be a common source for later references to the history of grading.
  13. History of Assessment Practices in the United States (PDF)
  14. Can We Get Beyond Letter Grades – This is a good discussion starter from ASCD’s Educational Leadership journal.

For anyone interested in a thought-provoking journey through the role of grades in education, these sources should be a helpful start. If you want to venture into even more peer-reviewed resources on the subject, below is a short bibliography. For obvious copyright reasons, I can’t share the full-text versions, but you can likely find most of these through a local library.

Adams, J. B. (2005). What makes the grade? faculty and student perceptions. Teaching of Psychology, 32(1), 21-24. doi: 10.1207/s15328023top3201_5

Bagley, S. S. (2008). High school students’ perceptions of narrative evaluations as summative assessment. American Secondary Education, 36(3), 15-32.

Bagley, S. S. (2010). Students, teachers and alternative assessment in secondary school: Relational models theory (RMT) in the field of education. The Australian Educational Researcher, 37(1), 83-106. doi: 10.1007/BF03216915

Bursuck, W. D., & Munk, D. D. (1998). Can grades be helpful and fair? Educational Leadership, 55(4), 44-47.

Bahous, R. (2008). The self-assessed portfolio: A case study. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(4), 381-393. doi: 10.1080/02602930701562866

Ciani, K. D., & Sheldon, K. M. (2010). A versus F: The effects of implicit letter priming on cognitive performance. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(Pt 1), 99-119.

Cicmanec, K. M. (2001). Standards-based scoring and traditional grading practices. Oxford, UK: National Council on Measurement in Education. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-3984.2001.tb01122.x

Culbertson, L. D., & Jalongo, M. R. (1999). “But what’s wrong with letter grades?” responding to parents’ questions about alternative assessment. Childhood Education, 75(3), 130-135. doi: 10.1080/00094056.1999.10521999

Durm, M. (1993). An A is not an A is not an A: A history of grading. The Educational Forum, 57(3), 294-297. doi: 10.1080/00131729309335429

Gunawardena Egodawatte. (2010). A rubric to self-assess and peer-assess mathematical problem solving tasks of college students. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 3(1), 75-88.

Guskey, T. R. (2006). Making high school grades meaningful. The Phi Delta Kappan, 87(9), 670-675.

Kitchen, E., King, S. H., Robison, D. F., Sudweeks, R. R., Bradshaw, W. S., & Bell, J. D. (2006). Rethinking exams and letter grades: How much can teachers delegate to students? CBE Life Sciences Education, 5(3), 270-280. doi: 10.1187/cbe.05-11-0123

Lammers, H. B., Kiesler, T., Currren, M. T., Cours, D., & Connett, B. (2005). How hard do I have to work? student and faculty expectations regarding university work. Journal of Education for Business, 80(4), 210-213. doi: 10.3200/JOEB.80.4.210-213

Linda Doutt Culbertson, & Mary Renck Jalongo. (1999). But what’s wrong with letter grades? Childhood Education, 75(3), 130.

Perchemlides, N., & Coutant, C. (2004). Growing beyond grades. Educational Leadership, 62(2), 53.

Sarafino, E. P., & DiMattia, P. A. (1978). Does grading undermine intrinsic interest in a college course? Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(6), 916-921. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.70.6.916

Seeley, M. M. (1994). The mismatch between assessment and grading. Educational Leadership, 52(2), 4.

Stephen E Tedesco. (2011). Is there a need for grades in terminal degree programs? Our Schools, our Selves, 20(2), 117.

Stephen J Freidman. (1998). Grading teacher’s grading policies. National Association of Secondary School Principals. NASSP Bulletin, 82(597), 77.

Stumpo, V. M. (1992). Letter grades: Are we deceiving our students? Journal of Chemical Education, 69(6), 459.

Weber, C. A. (1974). Pass/Fail: Does it work? NASSP Bulletin, 58(381), 104-106. doi: 10.1177/019263657405838120
26. Alternative methods of reporting pupil progress. (1977). NASSP Bulletin, 61(405), 44-46. doi: 10.1177/019263657706140509

Woodside, D. J., Trigg, J., Niehaus, M. A., Keba, S. W., & Hildebrand, C. S. (1986). Letter grades are better. Nurse Educator, 11(3), 9-10. doi: 10.1097/00006223-198605000-00010

YELON, S. L. (1970). An alternative to letter grades. Educational Forum, 35(1), 65-70. doi: 10.1080/00131727009340410

ZIMMERMAN, D. W. (1993). A note on the inadequacy of percentage grading scales for almost all ability distributions. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 34(2), 198-200. doi: 10.1037/h0084696

Zinn, T. E., Magnotti, J. F., Marchuk, K., Schultz, B. S., Luther, A., & Varfolomeeva, V. (2011). Does effort still count?: More on what makes the grade. Teaching of Psychology, 38(1), 10-15.

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About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is the author of Missional Moonshots, Assistant Vice President of Academics, Associate Professor of education, and a frequent keynote speaker and consultant on topics related to educational innovation and entrepreneurship, futures in education, and the intersection of education and digital culture. Opinions expressed here do not reflect those of his primary employer(s).