Do we still need grades?
Dave Carter – Feb 1, 2015
“the primary purpose of classroom assessment is to inform teaching and improve learning, not to sort and select students or to justify a grade.” McTighe and Steve Ferrara
By the 2015/16 school year, reporting for all students in grades 1-9 in Prairie Spirit will use a four point scale. This will be accompanied by an increase in feedback describing areas of strength, areas for improvement and next steps in learning for all students. The body of research, and our own experience, combine to create the moral imperative for us to continue to shift assessment in our schools. However, we must also consider the requirements of the Ministry of Education, and post secondary institutions, to provide percentage grades that are as reliable, precise and fair as possible.
Our foundational document ‘Quality Assessment – Grading and Reporting Practices’ was based, in part, on the work of Ken O’Connor. Writing for the Pearson Assessment Training Institute, O’Connor acknowledges that, for the foreseeable future, our high schools will be required to provide percentage grades. This does not mean that we cannot make significant changes in assessment for all our students. He outlines, among other strategies, that the act of assigning a mark should be delayed as long as possible and that all grades should be referenced to agreed standards and clear criteria.
It is affirming to see that Prairie Spirit has taken many steps towards modernizing assessment. We continue on the journey from Earning to Learning.