Friday, April 22, 2016

Grading Smarter, Not Harder

Guest Blogger -- Dr. Kolleen Onsrud, Curriculum Coordinator, School District of Janesville

Several years ago, I had surgery on my left ankle.  I had been injured some thirty years earlier, and in the years since, I had managed to reinjure it many times.  The original injury was simply a sprained ankle, yet it was bad enough that I went to a doctor. The doctor put me on crutches, told me to stay off of my ankle, use ice, and take ibuprofen.  I followed these directions, and then when I healed, resumed with my normal life and activities.  Over the years, I would repeat this pattern of injury, rest and recovery, over and over again.  After a few years of this, I became frustrated. Essentially each time I would get to the point that I had enough; I would again go to the doctor for help and receive the same advice.  I believed that there had to be a better way to change this outcome, but I could not figure it out on my own. It took nearly thirty years, but I finally met with a doctor, who suggested that I try a surgical repair. The surgery was a success, and I have not had the same injury since.  In this case, I believed I needed to change, but I needed some help in order to do it.  Changing our grading practices is similar in that many of us understand that we need to change; however, we are often not sure how or what to change.   

It is clear to me that changing our high school grading practice is a highly charged topic. Each of us holds an opinion formed by our own experiences and practices, both personal and professional.  It is these experiences that make changing our grading practice so complex.  Sometimes, like in my example with the new doctor, we need to hear from someone who holds a different perspective than our own.  Thus, the School District of Janesville will have teacher, principal, and author, Myron Dueck, present to the high school staff on Friday, May 6th at Parker High School.  Myron will share strategies and ideas that will guide teachers to create grading systems that measure student learning. The ideas are based on solid research, are practical, and can be applied within any classroom. 

Dueck’s presentation will be based on his book ‘Grading Smarter, Not Harder: Assessment Strategies that Motivate Kids and Help Them Learn.’  We encourage you to read his blog posts “Sound Grading” at or 
“Aha Moments on the Road to Better Teaching” at 

As we continue to find the best ways to provide meaningful instruction to students, and improve our methods of assessing student knowledge, we can look to others in the field for guidance--to help us learn how to change, adapt, and improve. As we evolve in our practice, we are better able to serve the greater Janesville community by educating every child.

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