Mastering the Grading System: What Every Parent Should Know
- Monday, May 10, 2010
- Research at least six indoor games that are appropriate for the children.
- Teach the games to children during the wait time before Sunday School starts.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of each activity.
Teachers' editions of textbooks are very helpful when writing objectives. You don't have to use everything that is printed there, but the time you save by skimming over the ideas will be well worth your effort. A teacher's guide usually offers valuable assistance in figuring out the formulas by which you will determine final grades for courses, i.e. answering questions about how much weight you should assign to tests vs. quizzes vs. practice drills vs. rough drafts, etc. when averaging the final grade. Since every course is different, most teachers' editions for textbooks also provide a sense of direction for how the material was intended to be used, what information is deemed essential, and what is considered optional according to conventional school standards.
Finally, objectives should not be limited to what educators call "the cognitive domain" (or exercises with the mind). Be sure to apply the knowledge that you want your children to accumulate in practical ways that are demonstrated in "the affective domain" (expressed by the heart with attitudes and feelings) and "the psychomotor domain" (things we produce with physical activity).
5. Wise teachers refuse to be intimidated in the grading process.
Ironically, the same issues that worry home educators also trouble professional educators—so take courage from the fact that formal education credentials don't guarantee concrete answers to all the questions. Parents often ask, "How do I know that my grades are the same as everyone else's grades?" The answer is simple: No one's grades exactly match another person's grades. In fact, no human being is able to evaluate consistently from day to day or week to week. That is why we establish guidelines, write objectives, read an essay two or three times with some space in between the readings, have a prepared evaluation rubric at hand for scoring purposes, and occasionally ask for a second opinion from a trusted friend or colleague. It does take some effort to achieve internal consistency!
Both parents and teachers are also concerned about inflation and deflation of grades. Our culture tends to err on the side of assigning grades that are often too high in order to help students improve their self-image and encourage academic interest. Some authorities are fearful that giving a "bad grade" will result in litigious retribution or classroom rebellion, and others are anxious to a fault that their students like them. There are also home-educating parents who are fearful of listing all the A's a child has indeed earned, lest the transcript be questioned as a demonstration of nepotism, along with others who say, "I could never give my child a bad grade." In every case the inflation or deflation of the student's grade reflects an erroneous understanding of the whole evaluation process. As educators we do not "give" children grades. Our responsibility is to record the grades they have earned and to make the evaluation process as accurate as possible by establishing clear goals for each educational task in advance.
The educational process—wherever it takes place—requires identification of three things: what the student needs to learn (objectives), how he/she will go about learning it (methods and materials), and how we all will know that the learning has taken place (evaluation). Grading is both a science and an art. As every great chef knows, a good recipe is tweaked through lots of culinary experiences. The dish may vary slightly every time it is served, but the "proof of the pudding" and the reliability of the kitchen increase with conscientious practice. Many of the tasks that take enormous concentration at the outset become automatic with repetition while discernment and confidence improve. You can become a master at evaluation and grading!
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