10 things that happened when I stopped grading and collecting homework
In my shift to standards based grading (SBG), I started this school year with a huge mindshift on class work. For the last 14 years I would collect and record grades for nearly every assignment I’ve given. This year I did just the opposite. I not only didn’t grade and record each assignment but I didn’t even collect them. Instead I give valuable feedback, both verbal and written, while students are completing assignments and after nearly a month, I’ve noticed 10 things that have happened:
1. The students do the work I assign. I expected my students to stop doing the work, however, they still do it. It’s an expectation and they also know I wouldn’t assign something that wouldn’t be beneficial to them.
2. They revise their work. The students still correct their work. I post the answers and they now look at every answer they miss and revise it. No longer do they look at a “B” and file it away as a good grade, not even looking at the ones they get wrong. They now want to know why they got a question incorrect.
3. They don’t cheat. With no grade to earn, there is no incentive to cheat.
4. The quality of work is better. With no rush to complete the work for a grade they spend more time on it. They are more concerned about the content than a grade.
5. The feedback is instantaneous. No longer do students have to wait for me to pass back papers up to a week later after I have recorded grades. Once corrected, students can do one of two things:
a. Keep the paper and instantly have it for review.
b. Turn the paper in for more detailed feedback from me. I then will return by the next day. Without endless amounts of papers to enter into the gradebook I’ll only have a small handful of papers to give meaningful feedback for and am able to hand it back quickly.
6. I have a lot more time. Without grading, collecting and recording over 100 assignments a day, I now spend my time on other things. More time is spent on quality instruction planning than doing busy work. I also have more free time for myself.
7. Students are solely assessed on the content they know. No longer can assignments be a safety net for those students who don’t do well on tests. The focus is solely on the learning of standards.
8. Students are not afraid of failure. Now that students know that they won’t be penalized for failing an assignment, they learn from their failures rather than being upset by them. Why should we grade an assignment over a concept if it’s their first try?
9. I am happier. I am no longer in this constant mode of trying to get assignments turned in or calling parents because a student is missing work.
10. My students’ achievement levels have risen. The quality of the work they now do far exceeds the quality before. Instead of never looking over mistakes they missed when they got an A or B they now want to fix every mistake since they are now learning for mastery rather than a grade.