The Most Appealing Ideas
In his book A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades, Ken O’Connor focuses on the practice of grading students’ works and academic performance. In particular, the author is convinced that grading is carried out in a flawed manner. As a result, due to the “broken” grading practices, many educators tend to assign unfair or inappropriate marks to their students. The entire idea of reevaluating and reassessing the way in which grades are given in schools is very appealing. In fact, the approach to grading has remained without any significant transformations for many years. It is possible that now it is high time to introduce some changes and make the processes of grading more effective and fair.
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Another idea of the author that seems very interesting is his discussion of the zero grade. In particular, O’Connor argues that grading students with zeroes for the missing homework is impractical. He believes that zero is an inappropriate grade category because it represents the lacking compliance with the task but not the level of knowledge of a particular student. In that way, instead of zeroes, O’Connor proposes rating such performance of learners as “Incomplete”. In addition, the author expresses an idea that it would make sense to provide students who failed to bring their homework with a 75-day period within which they would be obligated to complete the missing assignments and be graded accordingly.
All in all, the author is driven by a clever idea of adjusting the current grading practices used in schools. The intention behind this idea is to create a better and more precise grading approach. This intention is both interesting and controversial and could result in positive, as well as negative, outcomes.
Implications of the Ideas in the Book for Me as an Educator
One of the major and most obvious implications of the ideas outlined by O’Connor is the need to reassess and change the entire grading system or some of its core aspects. Such an enormous change could potentially result in much confusion among educators and the division into two groups – the professionals who support the change and the ones against it. In turn, the confusion could contribute to the loss of effectiveness in the grading practices while the change project is implemented because it may take time for educators to adapt to the new system, embrace its differences, and identify its advantages.
Apart from inconveniences related to change and the educators’ lack of readiness or desire to adjust to it, there could be multiple positive implications of O’Connor’s idea. For example, the new system could improve the grading standards thus enhancing the performance of educators by means of helping them focus on their students’ academic achievement and stop getting distracted by other issues.
As it was noted by O’Connor, the main flaws of the current grading system is the intrusion of performance aspects unrelated to academic achievement levels and their impact on grades. Specifically, some of the obstacles that prevent educators from assigning grades appropriately are cheating attempts, missing homework, lateness on deadlines, absences, and various types of assessment that fail to focus on the quality of work and the levels of students’ academic skills and knowledge.
Ideas That I Challenge
First of all, as it was mentioned previously, the author proposed providing students who failed to do their homework with a 75-day period during which they could fulfill the missing assignments, complete them, and receive grades accordingly. However, 75 days is a very long period to leave gaps for homework grades. In order to optimize a system that includes this standard of grading, it would be necessary to assess the grades for homework and classwork separately.
In other words, classwork would be graded and taken into account right away, while homework assessments would have to wait till all the grades are provided. In this case, homework grades would not have an immediate or significant effect on the final or end-of-unit marks. Consequently, it is possible that homework grades could lose all of their effect whatsoever so that it would become difficult to motivate students to comply with home tasks.
With all the teaching practices carried out only in class, complications may rise related to educators’ ability to facilitate the learning of students who process information better while working independently at home. Practically, what I would like to challenge is the fact that many of propositions of the author are based on the premise that all students use the same learning strategies and have equal levels of self-motivation.
I believe that grading practices that O’Connor views as unfair and unnecessary are often needed in order to encourage students to stay compliant with instruction, as well as help them maintain self-discipline. That is why it is possible that for some schools and classrooms the ideas outlined by O’Connor in his book may turn out to be very effective while, in other cases, the changes inflicted by the author’s proposition may majorly disrupt educational process.