NEWS FLASH!!! Teachers can NOT grade students’ knowledge!
YES! You heard that correctly!
I have heard administrators comment about how when a student doesn’t turn-in an assignment we as teachers should not give that student a 0% as a grade. This is the idea that we as teachers should just grade the assignments that are completed/turned-in. The argument here is generally that lack of assignment completion does not show lack of knowledge. Let me be quite, clear – I AGREE WITH THIS FACT - lack of assignment completion does not show lack of knowledge. However, I as a teacher never grade students’ knowledge. I grade their demonstration of knowledge.
We as teachers do not assign grades based upon knowledge in one’s head. We can not see inside our students’ brains. Instead, we assign grades based upon demonstration of knowledge and effort to gain and demonstrate that knowledge. The key word being demonstration. No employer in their right mind would hire someone and pay them month after month if no work/effort is visible. No one gets paid because they think or know about their job. We all get paid because we know how to do our jobs and we DO our jobs. We demonstrate our knowledge of the job as we visibly perform the job. Something must be visible. The same is true in education. I can’t give credit to students who have knowledge in their heads. I must see that knowledge demonstrated in some form. This may mean that an Einstein in my classroom fails chemistry. This is sad, terrible, and no fun. It is, however, a necessary reality if no demonstration of knowledge is present. We of course should reasonably work with students to see this demonstration of knowledge and follow all IEP’s and accommodations. The point I want to make here is that we all say as educators that we want our students to gain knowledge. We need to recognize that we are not grading our students' knowledge. We are grading their demonstration of their knowledge. It would behoove us as educators to recognize and own this fact. Explain to your students that you are not psychic, you are not god, and you don’t know what is in their brain. Explain to them that they don’t just have to learn in your classroom, but they also have to demonstrate what they have learned.
I try not to waste my students’ time or my time. If I am going to spend time creating an assignment, standing in line at the copier to make copies of the assignment, spend precious class time on the assignment, and grade the assignment, THEN I believe the assignment is valuable! If I give an assignment, students must do the assignment and demonstrate knowledge on the assignment. I will give a 0% for assignments that are never completed or turned-in. I will not apologize for this fact. I do not grade knowledge. I grade demonstration of knowledge. If a student chooses not to do an assignment, then they choose not to demonstrate knowledge. Therefore, they choose to receive a 0%.
(Note: Knowledge can be demonstrated in different ways through different assignments, BUT students must do an assignment that can appropriately demonstrate that knowledge. Therefore, the teacher must set the appropriate parameters for all assignments.)
Happy Teaching :)
- Founder of Chemistry with Confidence