Everything is a Contract, Why Not Grading?

A new thing brought to my attention is the concept of grading contracts. This was introduced to me in my Digital Studies class and it is something we are trying out. If you are also new to grading contracts, I will explain. Grading contracts are breaking away from the product outlook on a student’s work and more on the process of how they got there. I have two sides to this, one as a student and another as a future teacher.

As a Student. . .

I learned at a young age that C’s and D’s weren’t great and gave me a horrible feeling. After that, I made sure I got A’s and thought anything below a B was unacceptable. Because of this standard, I always made sure I went above and beyond in my work. I was asked to make a time line one year, and I made it out of wood, not on a poster. As I went further into education many more assignments because creative projects where I got to pick my medium and how specific my topic was. That freedom was enough for me. Now, I am being asked how I should be graded. I no longer have just the product in mind, but also the process.

However, with a history of being on the good side of the standard five letter grade system. I am still worried. The two models of grading contracts we looked at addressed a three level system and a two level system. What worries me more is the two level system. In the two level systems, it is either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.” It makes the work seem too black and white and clear cut. The three level system gives me a bit more comfort because it is set as “above proficient” “proficient” and “below proficient.” This system comforts me because one, it uses language such as proficient instead of average. Average has always carried a negative cogitation that affects everyone.

As a Future Teacher. . .

It seems strange to think about the grading contract as a future teacher, since I am experiencing it as a student. But, it is something I want to express now before I become a teacher and even forget the possibility of having a grading contract. It is so stressful making a rubric. First off, you have to be very specific in your distribution of the points. If the scale is too large, there is a lot of empty space where one mistake can be the difference between a B and a D. Rubrics also become this negative application of “you did this wrong, so you get this many points off” instead of “you did this right, you get this many points.”

As a future teacher, if I were to attempt a grading contract, I would push towards a three level system, because it will push the students to perform “above proficient” if they were to get simply “proficient.” I feel a two level system would cause less motivation, and stress students out more than the standard five letter grade system, because it seems to be a black and white system. And while society tries, nothing is ever black or white; gray is also a choice.

About Stephanie

Latin is my major and teaching is my aim. I enjoy puns and making learning and life dorkily effective. This is the term I use to define my teaching philosophy. It means that things do get done, but can be done in a dorky fashion.

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