Do I get a C?

The government likes us to rate each learner as A-E on their semester reports, so that parents know where their children stand in relation to an arbitrary set of expectations. A ‘C’ means the student is ‘performing at the expected standard’ for that grade level.

How do we make sure the grading is uniform? How do we eliminate subjectivity?

I sit in on a meeting where the teachers discuss how to moderate writing. They select a topic for a narrative piece all students will write on a specified day. They create a rubric with criteria against which to grade. The teachers will mark each others’ classes to eliminate subjectivity. Then they will meet as a group to moderate. Do they agree on which piece is an A or a D?

These are educators who value learning. It’s a shame government requirements bring it down to this.

I write.

My writing has improved through writing. And reading what other people write. And thinking. And writing some more. I write about what matters to me. I write because I want to. I write what I think and what I learn. Sometimes I start a piece and it writes itself in ten minutes. Some posts take many revisits over a series of days. Sometimes I start one and it goes nowhere and I scrap it. Sometimes I write a piece that I love and I read it over and over again myself.

My writing would be inhibited by…
being assigned a topic.
having a time limit.
being told when to write.
receiving a letter grade for my writing.
knowing I was being compared to other writers.
being told to plan and draft my writing in a particular way.
writing to fit a list of criteria decided by someone else.
having no choice.

I like to use ellipses….
I don’t like to use capital letters in the headings of my posts.
I often deliberately oversimplify big ideas in my writing.
I choose simple words even though I know more elaborate, sophisticated, ostentatious, prodigious, impressive, obfuscating ones
And sometimes I start sentences with ‘and’.

So is there consensus? Do I get a C?

6 thoughts on “Do I get a C?

  1. Well I love your post but I thought you said you’d be inhibited by a grade! I certainly would!
    And I totally agree with your list of things that would inhibit your writing.
    I’ll just click the like button! Come to think of it is that like button a bit like a grade?! Sometimes I’m really pleased with a post but apparently nobody likes it!


  2. Yes, it certainly makes you think as a teacher – what is the PURPOSE for writing (etc.)? If the purpose is to support writing and to encourage writing then we should be allowing students the freedom to write without being layered against criteria. We should be encouraging writing for the sake of writing! I have a child who loves to read, has an incredible imagination and tells the most elaborate and fantastic stories…but hates to write. What caused that? We, as teachers, butchered the process so violently and created a set of success criteria so inhibiting that he now associates writing with a dull set of rules and strict guidelines. Bring back the fun and passion in writing I say! Im with you, Ed!


  3. Ed,

    Congrats on another thought-provoking post πŸ˜‰ I often wonder if governments and parents really know what a grade B or grade D “means”. Sure, every government likes to hear “We got more A grades this year” – most parents love to hear “Your daughter is an A student” – (not so much “Little Johnnie is a C student”) πŸ˜‰

    Sadly, there are still schools and institutions that do not even know what their grades mean…and these grades certainly do not come close to “measuring” learning. So, I think it’s fair for us to ask “what do grades really mean – at the end of the day”?.

    I think it was George Wiggens that said “…the most that can be said of a high-scoring learner is that she is a good student and will graduate with a false sense of security” – good students are not necessarily good LEARNers.

    Sadly, many institutions and governments are still obsessed with “valuing what they measure” (not measuring what educators value – and what parents should value, too). But, then again most governments don’t do a lot of educational reading and thunking, do they?

    But, hey – I’m gonna give you an “A” for this blog post πŸ˜‰



  4. I love this Edna!

    I teach Year 6 and I agonise over marking my students writing. I am happy to comment, encourage, suggest ways to improve the way things were written but I hate giving it a grade!

    I want to tell them that the grade is not important. That the writing is!

    If I did not write I don’t think I would survive. I reflect, I fail, I pour out words. I learn more through writing than almost anything else I do. If someone were to grade my writing, I may never write in public again.

    What are we doing to our students by giving them a grade?

    When I taught Kindy, I used the “process writing” method we were taught at Uni in the 1980s. I had students who wrote pages and pages. I learned to decode what they wrote and only corrected spelling so that their parents could also get the joy from their words. My students loved to write. It was never a test. It was always about discovery. Isn’t it a shame we give out grades.

    Sometimes I want to go back to Kindergarten and enjoy the whole process of discovery again.

    This bothered my colleague and I so we started the term with a “Literacy Immersion Day.” The students had to do team building tasks on the oval but before they did that they read the ‘orientation’ for the Narrative that they would complete as a team after the task. My colleague wrote about it here

    They were completely engaged with the task.


  5. A great post! I struggle with this all of the time. I teach 70 4th graders reading and writing. Grading a 10 year olds writing is awful….not to mean their writing is awful, but the process of pouring over it to give it a grade…… I “teach” and grade the assignments that are in the curriculum but I also supplement with other writing too, lots of it… It is so true how you said the criteria and topics,etc. make a writer dislike writing.


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