Grades for Homework?


A little background … I’ve always been an elementary teacher that grades just about everything.  I’ve thought that every assignment should contribute to an overall grade.  When I say grade, I mean a point value, such as 8/9 points.  Mainly, I did this because it worked with my grading system.  Parents and students alike understood my grading policy.  My policy allowed little subjectivity, which in my case provided less of an opportunity for arguments over grades.  Quick disclaimer:  I never allowed graded homework to count for more than 25% of the entire grade.  I thought that if I didn’t grade the homework, what incentive is there for the kids to complete the homework?  I gave the kids the “talk” about how homework is practice and will help in the long term, but always attached some type of grade to the homework.  My view on grading has changed over time.  A few years ago I decided to tweaked my system.

For one of my math classes, I decided to not give an official grade for homework assignments.  Instead, I decided to give a check or minus at the top of the page.  A check meaning that the student understands the concept (generally getting 80% correct) – here’s where the subjectivity lies.  A minus would mean that the student received less than 80% correct.  I still graded formative and summative assessments, but decided not to officially grade the homework (and have it count for their grade) for this particular class.

I was waiting for community members to start contact me about how they were confused and didn’t understand my grading … etc.  So what happened, did my inbox fill up like a helium balloon?  Actually…

No, it didn’t.  I didn’t get one email or phone call asking me to clarify the grading of the homework.  In fact, students became much more aware of how they were doing in class based on the check / minus system.  Students who received a minus actually took the initiative to redo the problems without asking.  Also, I was finding myself grading less homework, which allowed me time to focus on creating engaging lessons that promote student learning.  I also expected a drop in achievement and focus – neither happened.  I’m so glad that I took a leap and decided to grade using this new method.

Next year, I’m going to expand the system to the other grade levels that I teach.

This post was inspired from :

photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via photopin cc


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