Chapter 9: Grading and Reporting:
This chapter focuses on big idea #8: grading and reporting student achievement is a responsive, human process that requires teachers to exercise their professional judgement.
On the first page of chapter 9, Cooper states the following: ''There was an implicit acceptance that, as a secondary teacher, I had been anointed with the ability to determine marks and grades in a reliable manner" (Cooper, p.182). I found this specific line to be amusing because it is true. The mark that is given by a high school teacher is magical, unquestionable, and final. However, Cooper quickly states that times have changed and now standards that fluctuate from class to class and year to year are unacceptable. Instead, teachers discuss standards for quality work, called performance standards. This chapter revolves around the relation between grading and standards.
Cooper discusses how teachers can ensure that performance standards are communicated to students by provided pieces of work that replicate the level on a rubric. For example, teachers should show the class a 'level 3' and 'level 4' sample of work so that students have standards not standardization. This seems very obvious and most of the chapter is common sense. Why wouldn't a teacher give students an exemplar? This helps guides students on the right path and it only makes it fair to provide an example to the class.
Percetange grades and letter grades are also mentioned in this chapter. Cooper argues that performance standards provide more useful information than a percentage grade, which is true. He also mentions that converting letter grades to percentage grades is hard since teachers will move from a four or five point scale system to a 100-point system. At first, I disagreed with him because I am accustomed to percentage grades. I like receiving a percentage because I like to know whether I am closer to one letter grade versus the other. For example, receiving a 78% means more to me than receiving a B+ or a "7". This is because I know that if I push myself harder, it is possible to receive an 80%, which is then equivalent to an A-. I also disagree with Cooper when he states that a zero must not be factored into the computation of a summary grade. Well then what do you assign a student? If they haven't completed the work then they receive an incomplete. An incomplete is equivalent to zero, is it not? How could you give a letter grade or percentage to a student who hasn't submitted anything? I understand that teachers and educators are trying to make school an engaging process and attempting to make it friendlier, more fun, and seem less like school (because this seems to make students more interested in their schooling). But this doesn't mean that we should start eliminating letter/percentage grades. I feel that this is unfair to not only students in the same class, but to students who dealt with this system and received zeros during their schooling. I feel that it's unfair to 'contact parents and document' the issue for not completing their work. I have also been in classroom situations where students like this receive extra projects that they could complete in order to boost their mark. But this isn't fair either. As educators, we shouldn't assume that students know a certain amount of information. Students should prove what they know by submitting work. Not submitting work = a zero.