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Dear Teachers: Stop Grading Students For Participation


Dear teachers,

Grading participation is an obsolete practice that teachers need to stop using. Projects and essays, among other things, usually have rubrics teachers grade off of. For example, one section of a rubric might be ‘Clearly identifies the meaning of the work as a whole’. If the student clearly does that, they get the points for that section, right? So why is participation subjective while projects and essays are normally objective? Why does a teacher get to decide if you interacted in class enough? The point of going to school is to be taught and to learn — not to participate in class.


“When you are giving participation grades, you are taking away both meaning and validity from the grades you give. Grading should be objective–you have standards for each project, right?–and those are the grades that should be presented because they are the grades that represent what your kids know and can do. “Effort” is not a standard, and it cannot be objectively assessed. Simply trying hard, while admirable, in no way represents what is actually being learned.” –The Art of Ed



From my personal experience, grading participation forced me to say things that I didn’t actually mean. When I do not have anything constructive to add to the conversation, I still have to talk about something, otherwise I will be docked points. When we critique students’ presentations, etc., I am forced to say superficial things (like, “I like what you did here, but maybe if you clarify it”) because I have nothing else to say.

Some days I have literally received a C for daily participation because I *only* talked three times (in a class of 20 people — there was just not enough time to talk more than that). And do not even ask about the days where there was nothing constructive for me to add. The system some of my teachers have to grade the amount of times someone talks in class can do one of two things: 1) brings their grade down sufficiently or 2) shows students a higher grade that does not reflect their actual learning and gives them an incorrect estimate of how prepared they are for their future.

“[A] challenge with grading participation has been how to accurately assess the quiet student: the one who rarely, if ever, participates in discussion, but who nevertheless faithfully attends class and appears to be on the ball, based on his or her test and essay scores. What is more, how does this student compare with the chatty student? That is, the one who is adept in thinking on his or her feet during class discussion but whose subsequent test and essay scores indicate that he or she hasn’t been keeping up with the readings, lectures, etc.?” –Inside Higher Ed


Students that are naturally quiet or shy will not prosper in classes where a part of their grade is solely how much they talk and interact in class. This not only singles out the students that do not participate, but it forces them out of their comfort zones into a place they are neither comfortable nor familiar with. Yes, it is great to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, but not when forced by a teacher who has a pen in hand ready to mark down every time they speak.

All in all, how much students participate in class is an in-effective method to use to grade students on their academic progress and knowledge.


Every Student Who Thinks This Way Or Has Ever Thought This Before

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Augusta Battoclette
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Augusta is a journalism major at Kent State University and has been writing since before she can remember. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: aaaugustaaa

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