Examine and Evaluate Student Work Consistently and Fairly

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Follow these guidelines to evaluate student work fairly and effectively…

Evaluation is an integral part of educating students as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. Teachers and parents use test scores and feedback to gauge a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses. Communities rely on these scores and feedback to judge the quality of the educational system. State and federal lawmakers use these same metrics to determine the schools’ standards.

As teachers trying to incorporate good grading practices remember that one key element is the need to be consistent with a chosen evaluation system. It not only establishes a standard of fairness, but will also help teachers grade more efficiently.

Let’s take a look at some important aspects that help establish consistency:

1. Make a Plan

A good step towards maintaining consistency is to make a plan for evaluating student work and then to stick to it. One practical way to do so is to establish evaluation procedures during the planning stages of the course. Planning includes deciding how many and what kinds of evaluation methods to use, how the students’ work should be graded, and what proportion of the final grade each assignment, quiz, etc., will be. This is also the stage when teachers should decide if they will assess grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation. It is imperative that once procedures are set that teachers apply them equally to all students.

2. Time Division

Since teachers will have a number of papers, assignments, reports and students to assess, they must be cautious to budget their time, specifically when grading student work. The place to begin is to first identify how much time is there between receiving the work and when it is returned? Plan short assessment sessions instead of trying to do things all at once. Many teachers find when they attempt to review too many papers at once, there is more room for poor and inconsistent grading. Therefore, include breaks in the plan.

Learn to spend a reasonable amount of time on each paper. In their effort to be effective assessors, teachers are often tempted to spend too much time on most papers, especially those with many problems. A good and practical way of dealing with this common issue could be to use a kitchen timer and allow a specified period of time per paper.

3. Even Comment Spread

Students have a right to know why they have been assessed a certain way, and need specific guidance to improve their performances. This is true whether the teacher is following formative assessment methods or summative methods. Make comments effective and helpful for future learning. Limit comments or notations to those that students can use for further learning or improvement. Writing too many comments tends to overwhelm students, and they may miss the main points of a critique. Comments do not have to be extensive in order to be effective.In the case of written assignments, have at least one comment per page, so students know it has been read carefully.

4. Model Answers

Model answers provide a key that clarifies the major points students should cover in their responses. Prepare the model answers in advance. Before starting to grade a batch of tests, skim over several essays to determine if the model answer needs to be modified. This would be in case students have misinterpreted the intent, or if the standards are unrealistically high or low. The model answers will help teachers have a standard to gauge all students by and avoid relative assessment. However, remember to be open to legitimate interpretations and arguments different from what was expected.

5. Grade Anonymously

It is easy for teachers to inadvertently let their personal opinions affect their assessment of students. Particularly in the instance of grading papers, activities, and final tests, to maintain consistency means having a common scale by which you measure students’ progress and work, regardless of who they are. Therefore, when grading, consider either folding over the names so that they are not visible or ask students to use their student ID numbers rather than their names.

6. Track Grade Distribution

If teachers are evaluating a reasonable number of students, it is a good idea to make a graph of the distribution of grades for each quiz or assignment. This will indicate how the students are doing and what the most frequent scores are at a glance.Distributions also make it easier for one to see the effectiveness of the evaluation method.


Like this article for teachers?

Browse the Professional Learning Board COURSE CATALOG to find related online courses for teachers in your state. Professional Learning Board is a leading provider of online professional development classes that teachers use to renew a teaching license or renew a teaching certificate.

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