This podcast was originally published on Educators 2 Educators.
As a new teacher, grading and assessment can be one of the most intimidating and overwhelming topics. Every school and school district has a different policy on grading and assessment, so it is important that you study your district’s policies carefully. After you have guidance from your school leadership, take the following tips into consideration before the start of the school year.
Figure out What is Important
Your state or district’s learning standards should be at the center of your decision-making when you are deciding what to grade and assess. Take a step back and think “What do my students need to know before they leave this grade level or course?”. These overarching learning objectives should be reflected in your grade book.
New Teacher Tip: Ask to see the student report card you will be expected to fill out during the school year. Is the report card grade-based or standard/skill-based. Also, ask your teammates if you can take a look at their grade book from the previous year. This may help you gain perspective on the number of grades and types of work you should be grading.
Practice vs Assessment
Every day your students are going to be practicing skills and producing work that you could potentially grade. As a new teacher, you will run yourself into the ground if you try to grade every single thing a student produces. Go to a trusted mentor on your team and ask for guidance on which student work you should be giving feedback on and which work you can just simply be practice. Keep in mind that well-planned student practice and on-the-spot student feedback are stepping stones to informal and formal assessments.
New Teacher Tip: Don’t assume that the students in your classroom know how to take YOUR tests or assessments. At the beginning of the year, take the first assessments together as a class so that you can make your expectations clear and explain the types of questions students may see on your tests in the future.
Check-in with your school policy on homework before you make any decisions about how you will design, assign and assess homework. Once you know what is expected of you, take a long look at the reason why you are assigning homework. Homework is meant to reinforce learning from the school day. If a child does not understand concepts within the school day, homework is not a way to help a struggling student. Many students do not have a parent at home who will be able to reteach concepts in a new way. Make sure you are assigning homework that can be done independently and does not add stress to an already struggling student’s plate.
New Teacher Tip: If you are required to assign homework, do NOTthat you need to grade every single piece of homework. You can go over homework as a class or spot-check homework for misunderstandings. Save your time and energy to grade the student work that gives you a TRUE story of each learning such as classwork/projects, exit slips, and/or assessments.
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