Easy Grade Pro. That’s the name of the program our school endorses as the electronic grade book of the twenty-first century. There are many others like it. They do all sorts of wonderful things. Teachers can print out reports on an individual student, class, assignment, or some combination of those. At the end of a grading period, there’s no need for a calculator. After each individual assignment is put in, the program acts like a spreadsheet and brings a student’s grade up to date, “in real time.” What a relief. And what a perfect tool for the standardized test-culture we’re a part of.
I use the program. Nobody forces me to (they can’t, contractually). I like what I see, but it’s not complete. I remember what a professor in college once said to me: that grading is a matter of judgement. Students often are told by teachers that teachers “don’t give grades–students earn them.” This is true to a degree. The computer program doesn’t account for effort, improvement, or other variables that may affect a grade. On a standard-scale, a 59% is a fail. Some teachers will grade on the curve, and this may automatically be a D. Others would say its so close to a D, they’ll give a
D. I look at this differently.
In a 32-week semester, a student, at the 16 week mark, may be failing–miserably. There’s an
intervention, and we see substantial improvement for the next 16 weeks. We’re at a 56% (up from 43%). This student has had a total shift in attitude and effort. 56% is an F, but I wouldn’t fail this student. Not a chance. Failure to me is a total non-understanding of the subject. This is not to say that a D is something to celebrate, but when it’s the difference between passing and failing, it can be an achievement worth “celebrating,” at least on the report card. Computers are great, but they don’t care. Teachers do.
has been teaching for the Los Angeles Unified School District for eleven years. He has won District and County Teacher of the Year awards, as well as the prestigious Bank of America Community Hero award. Before teaching, he spent five years at Learning Forum, which runs summer camps world-wide that increase student academic potential.