Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Fw: Grading (Was: Being A Teacher!?)

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Sat May 24 18:00:00 2003

When I was student-teaching a Psychology class at an alternative public high
school in Ann Arbor in 1974 we faced this dilemma. We started the year by
looking at a "group dynamics" model which postulates three types of

1. "Task" behaviors that help a group get its work done, such as supplying
information, asking questions, leading, etc.

2. "Maintenance" behaviors that help a group work well together, such as
appropriate use of humor, gate-keeping for those who have been trying to get
a word in edgewise, etc.

3. "Self-Oriented" behaviors that help individuals get their own needs met,
often at the expense of the group, such as inappropriate humor, withdrawing,
blocking progress, taking over, etc.

We then said to the group, "We need to give you grades. We can't give you
all A's (we checked.) We can't let you give yourself grades (we checked.) We
are not going to play God and give you grades. We have to create a grading
system that meets those criteria."

I wish I had documented the process, but what we arrived at was beautiful.
We created a check list that had many of those "group dynamics" behaviors on
9 point scales. High points were awarded for use of the first two kinds of
behaviors and low points were awarded for the third. Points were subtracted
for being late. No points were awarded if one was absent.

Points were earned as follows: At the beginning of each class session,
everyone (students, teachers, and any visitors) chose a partner. Everyone
took two checklist sheets and wrote their own name on one and their
partner's on the other. Throughout the class session they observed their own
behavior and that of their partner. In the last minute or so of class, they
filled out the checklists, which went into each person's folder. At the end
of the marking period we tallied the points and displayed them on the
chalkboard, expecting a long discussion of how to assign grades to the
points earned. Instead, there was no discussion, as it was eminently obvious
to everyone as we looked at the numbers that there was a cluster of A's, a
cluster of B's, a few C's, and a few failing grades. No one argued. No one
objected. It worked out this way each marking period for the entire year.

~Alan Klein

----- Original Message -----
> From: "David Deutsch" <david.deutsch_at_QUBIT.ORG>
> > > Assume one is willing to take this risk, or at least wishes to discuss
> > > the topic "academically" ;) . My question still stands. What is the
> > > most fair/moral way to assign grades?
Received on Sat May 24 2003 - 17:59:50 EDT

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