By now, students and their parents should have received their final report cards from last year. As always, they will be received with either dread or delight, regret or relief.
A lot of conflicted feelings also went into the input of those grades. Grading is always fraught, but this year it was especially so. The relevant questions were no longer just what and how to grade, but if we should grade at all. Algebraic equations are hard enough to learn in normal times, let alone when you’re at home with spotty internet connection and your neighbor’s lawnmower going off.
Every teacher I know adjusted their normal grading habits in one way or another. A friend at another school gave slightly increased scores for work turned in on time, instead of reducing grades for late work.
The pandemic was as good a time as any to reframe rewards and punishments.
The two primary changes my team and I made were a) allowing students to re-do all of their work as many times as they needed, and b) allowing students to turn in their work until the end of the quarter — sometimes after — without penalty. We also offered daily study halls, both virtual and in-person. If work is supposed to ensure that learning takes place, then the rationale was to give students as many opportunities to learn as possible.
I still think these were appropriate things to do given the circumstances, but at the same time, some problems emerged…