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.
- 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.
- 12 Alternatives to Letter Grades – Regardless of your opinion about letter grades, this provides a variety of great feedback and assessment possibilities.
- Don’t Rely on Letter Grades – In this post, the "American English Doctor" shares a few thoughts about the limitations of letter grades.
- "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.
- 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.
- A Short History of Grading
- Taking Back Teaching: A Forgotten History
- Grades, Grades, and More Grades!
- Imagining College Without Grades
- Colleges and Universities that Use Narrative Evaluations (Wikipedia Entry)
- Homeschool-Friendly Colleges and Universities that Don’t Give Grades
- 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.
- 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.
- History of Assessment Practices in the United States (PDF)
- 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: 10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.526
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.