Friday, October 8, 2010
E for Effort?
I went to a teacher training today regarding the six-trait writing scoring guide. For those of you who are saying to yourself, "six whaaah?" let me explain. This is the form that is supposed to allow for teachers to grade student writing objectively. The six traits of writing are: ideas, organization, word choice, voice, sentence fluency and conventions. Stick with me non-teacher-folk. I promise to not continue in Teacherese!
Part of the training included us scoring three student samples to determine what samples of each score would look like. We then were asked to discuss our scores with a small group of other teachers. In my group, the comment was made, "Well, it would help to know the student. If this is the student's best work I would grade it higher than if this wasn't." I brought up my understanding that the scoring guide was to take the bias out of scoring this writing. This teacher continued that if a student's absolutely best work only brought him/her up to a C, then that should become an A.
Let me propose a scenario. A student works really hard to write a paper. He/she goes through the editing process and turns in a final product. Using the scoring guide, the student only scores a 3/5 (not proficient). However, you know this kid worked his/her tail off to turn this in. Do you give them an inflated grade for effort? What about when this kid goes to the next grade or college? The kid does the same caliber of work and gets the lower score. Is that fair? The kid has potential...but has the teacher provided the potential to be blindsided later?
So, my question is: Should students be graded on potential? Is the "E for effort" style of grading helping or hurting our students?