Grading Joys

Okay, that’s facetious. Grading woes would be better. But this article at Irascible Professor, now on my daily blog read, is by an English teacher at a university dealing with students who think their grades are too low.

I have to admit I have contributed to grade inflation, not willingly, but because of overwhelming pressure from all sides. I don’t hand out As and Bs like candy, the way so many teachers do these days, but I do tend to pull my punches at the lower end of the grade scale. I don’t give as many Ds and Fs as I used to. In fact, I often put a C- on a paper that would have earned a D from me twenty years ago.

I don’t give away As or Bs either. I am not sure about whether I give fewer Ds and Fs. I doubt it. Since I have freshmen who don’t even write, it’s not too hard to justify those grades. The real question would be do I grade as hard as I used to… I do, but I don’t. I grade as hard as I used to but I also give the students a chance to rewrite their work and then I average the original and the rewrite. I didn’t do that earlier. Of course, earlier I had them writing 14 papers a semester instead of 7, and none of us had time for rewrites.

So I guess I have lowered my expectations of the workload rather than my grade expectations.

She wrote this about a student who was in her office for help.

Five minutes into our conference yesterday he snatched the draft of his paper out of my hand, stuffed it into his backpack, and stomped out of my office in disgust. He sent me an email last night saying that the reason he cut our conference short in such a rude way was that no matter how hard he tries I keep criticizing his writing.

I wondered, and asked my son aloud, how it was that she was supposed to teach him to be a better writer if she didn’t criticize his writing?

The author makes that point herself at the end of the article.

Think about his complaint, “You criticize my writing no mater how hard I try.”

How else am I supposed to show him what is wrong with a paper or what isn’t working, so that he will be able to fix it or improve it in his next draft?

Of course I criticize his work when it is not good enough. That’s what teachers do.

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