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Grading Policies and Tips in the English Language Arts Classroom

Grading is the most time-consuming part of a teacher's job. Read about grading policies and tips for the English Language Arts classroom.


Does your district have specific grading policies? What are they? Do you have the flexibility to adapt them to your classroom needs? If you ask any English Language Arts teacher they will tell you that grading/marking is the most time-consuming part of their job. During this Twitter Chat, teachers shared their best advice for balancing the marking load as well as getting students to utilize assignment feedback. 

Grading Policies and Grading Tips

Q1: What student work is graded in your classroom? What isn’t?
  • Students receive grades for major projects, speeches, and tests. Drafts & homework are graded for completion.
  • Summative, of course. But also important to grade formative ones as well. Where’s the balance between feedback & grades, tho?
  • Only “good” copies are formally graded. Lots of diagnostic and formative assessments to guide instruction.
  • I mainly assign grades to summative projects/assessments with a few other smaller, formative checks throughout.
  • I offer feedback and credit on all student work but high mark grades are on formal writing pieces and larger projects.
  • We do lots of practice that may only be graded for completion, assessment is graded after practice.
Q2: How do you hold students accountable for implementing feedback? Do students do any revisions/reflections after grading?
  • Self-assessment after projects always happens. It’s a graded assignment. As far as revisions, I highly encourage students to do so.
  • When I provide feedback on rough drafts I look through the good copy to ensure corrections have been made.
  • I also look to see if feedback has been utilized. Overall, I want to see growth over the unit.
  • I give minimal feedback on paper – use tech tools or ask kids to meet. They CAN rewrite for a new grade-only 10% usually do.
  • A lot of revision/editing in my class comes before anything is graded, so the grade reflects the implementation of suggestions.
  • Homework, most classwork, essays.
  • Google Docs makes providing feedback and revision easy!
  • On our senior paper, we grade the drafts together and they help me determine their grade. They take ownership of their own effort!
  • We discuss the importance of learning from mistakes. Anything to make the benefits of revision palpable!
  • Grade final drafts but clear expectations for the target skill that includes a lesson, peer editing, and feedback first!

Q3: Schools are moving towards standards-based grading. Thoughts? Experiences?
  • Standard-based grading encourages student growth & success. Writing instruction lends itself to it with a focus on revision.
  • Like the idea, but the amount of work involved on the grading side seems like a drawback … don’t want the focus to shift to grades
  • I’m all about standards-based grading (& rubrics)! Students should clearly know & understand assessment criteria to demonstrate it.
  • We have been using success criteria and rubrics almost my entire teaching career. We are not encouraged to mark using points.
  • Standards-based is more clear & effective, set goals know what you’re working towards, and COMMUNICATE w/examples.
  • I use rubrics a ton because I think they help to make grading less subjective.
  • My district has built its own standards-based rubrics that we have all had the opportunity to influence and shape. Works well!
Q4: Some schools are moving toward students grading themselves. Thoughts? Experiences?
  • I have student self-grade on small-group presentations and portfolios. They’re much more critical than I am!
  • Here is an example of having students self-assess
  • Students should always reflect on their learning. Self-assessment empowers Ss. But teacher input shouldn’t be erased. Trust professionals!
  • Self-assessment is always encouraged, but students cannot just select their own grades.
  • We’ve implemented something similar as a part of our formal teacher observation. It’d be cool to score students and compare w/ them.
  • Self-grading leads to OWNERSHIP and EMPOWERMENT, set guidelines, model, and support w/rubrics & examples.
  • I have involved students in the grading process & giving that responsibility & trust empowers them to rise to their own standards.
  • Definitely value students’ self-assessments, but not necessarily as a final grade. Rubrics before completing work offer opp for the desired grade.
  • I love having Ss reflections and eval. Usually, I agree with their assessments!
Q5: What tricks have you learned to help manage the marking load?
  • Rubrics are a lifesaver! I use them for *everything*! Here are other tricks I’ve learned.
  • I have written several blog posts about reducing the marking load here is one – Managing the Marking Load.
  • Not everything needs to be graded. Conferences allow for quick, focused feedback. Sometimes when students work, you also work.
  • Gradebook hacks
  • Agreed! Teacher input is still powerful, too. I think most of the value would come from the conversation between teacher and student.
  • I use this method for formative assessments.
  • Staying at a school an extra hour daily and 1 night a week at Panera with a salad, sandwich, lemonade, and a stack of work!
  • Conferencing helps familiar w/work, regular feedback & reflection helps grade on growth, FreshGrade saves taking home huge paper stacks.
  • Only assign what I can assess within 1 week. Digital grade books. Hyperdocs to package learning & make it easy to assess as one.

I hope this discussion on grading policies and ideas has given you some ideas on how to streamline your assessment practices.

Other Resources

  1. Grade 7/8 Long Range Plans Ontario Curriculum
  2. Teacher Professional Development Workshop
  3. Strategies For Teaching Split Grade Classes

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