Why 3P Grading?

UPDATE:  After attending #RSCON3 and talking to several ungraders… I have altered my grading plan.  Please see this post instead.  Thanks!

What a Grade Means to Me:

A grade, whether received for a math class or through a work assessment/review, is supposed to reflect how much you’ve learned since the last review/grade. A grade is, at its heart, a measure of progress and learning over a period of time in which you can compare your grade to others.

As a teacher, I have discovered what so many others are starting to discover that grading individual assignments does not work.

Educators are required to submit grades for our students.  However, I do not believe that a grade makes students more  interested, engaged, or a skilled learner, student, writer, reader, or thinker.  In fact, research indicates that grades work against learning and doing.

This semester, I am asking students to assess and their own learning, writing, reading, and thinking.  These will not be assessments created to generate a grade—like rubrics or scoring guides.  The best assessment involves observation, description, interpretation, and an insider’s awareness of what it is like to actually create the products or engage in the kind of thinking and writing we are assessing.

I will not grade individual assignments.  Not only do grades and point systems get in the way of learning, but they also just don’t make any sense, particularly in a course where the work and thinking we’ll do influences itself backwards and forwards.

I want all of the work my students complete throughout the semester integrated with them, the reader and each other.  If I’ve doled out grades, assignment by assignment, why would students want to go back and revise and edit their pieces.  Grades signify that the work is finished and writing, good writing, is never finished.  I want students to have a sense that our work together is  bigger and more important than any number or letter that I  could assign it.  And, indeed, it is.

I will ask students’ work be done on time, in good faith, a term used to describe work in which students have invested thought and time.  If students are thinking, working, and participating in good faith, then I will return your investment; I’ll give students response and feedback—assessment—to help them deepen their understandings and improve the quality of their work.

I needed to find/create/calculate the ideal grading system that would match my core beliefs on grading.  This is where the 3P system comes in.

My Interpretation of the 3P Grading System:  

Student are responsible for assessing themselves, just as I am responsible for assessing them.  Each of our assessments in Participation, Progress, and  Performance will count towards 50% of your final grade.

  • Participation (50%):  It’s worth half your grade.  That should tell you something.  Participation is how you conduct yourself in class.  Participation includes, but not limited to: Attendance (Don’t be late) in body and mind, Be Prepared, Assignments On-Time, Share in Class and Online, Be Respectful, Take Ownership, Be Accountable, Ask for Help.
  •  Progress (30%):  Progress takes into account new learning.  What didn’t you know at the beginning that you know now.  Simply “doing the work” will not cut it.  Two types of progress:  participation progress and academic/knowledge progress.
  • Performance (20%):  This part of grading is strictly in regards to the quality of the work produced. Most people are B/C people.  A vast majority of the population are B/C students and B/C workers.  And that is ok.

I then had to define what each grade “looks” like.  These are rough outlines.  The first day of class, we, as a class, will elaborate on these and agree… as a class.

  • A: Consistently Above and Beyond.  Completed more than asked/expected weekly. One of the very best.  Your work singles you out from the pack.  Perfect participation.
  • B: Occasionally performs above course requirements .  Exceeds expectations 75% of the time.
  • C: Just Enough. Does the bare minimum.  Nothing more, nothing less.
  • D: Didn’t Try.  Assignments do not match the requirements, assignments not complete, products have multiple grammar issues. No revision.
  • F:  Forget about it.  Assignments not passed in.  No effort, negative participation, missed classes.

I am, finally, at peace with grading my students.  I know that when my students see this system, they will experience some dissonance.  Students are so entrenched in the grade game this might come as challenging but I think once the students start working within the system, I really think it will open them and their writing up.

At least I hope so.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


5 responses to “Why 3P Grading?

  1. I appreciate that you are attempting an alternative system, but I’m troubled by how you will do it.

    Why grade at all? Arbitrary phrases like, “just enough” or “no effort” say very little about performance. I would go as far as to say if your student puts in what you call little or no effort, perhaps there is something wrong with the activity. The student doesn’t see value in it.

    I would recommend narrative feedback. Just tell students what they’ve done and what still needs to be mastered.

    If a report card grade is required, allow them to assign the grade to themselves.

    Now this is real reform.

    • Hi Mark:

      Thanks for stopping by. My next post is an update of this one! that update is based on hearing you and Joe Bower speak at #rscon3 this weekend. Both of you are my ungrading gurus! I hope that if I have questions, I can come to you!

      Thanks so much. I look forward to continued learning from you.


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