Grading for Growth 

Grades are weird. We look at the work of a student, then we measure it against a rubric, often derived from work other students have done, and assign it a point value. Those points are added together at the end of the term and matched with a letter grade in a table which we then submit to the University. Then those letters are translated back into numbers so a student can know their cumulative GPA. This is the system we have arrived at through happenstance and history and it is outlined quite well in the recent book Grading for Growth by David Clark and Robert Talbert (check out this substack or recent podcast if you don’t want to read the whole book).

There are, of course, actual grading policy guidelines for this at Chico State. There are radical alternatives other Universities have tried. There is even the alternative of “ungrading” which seeks to unpack and undo the history of grading. 

This is not an endorsement of any specific practice or critique. Systems of grading are one of the many truths we have historically accepted that deserve a closer look. Take a few minutes and reflect on what you hope to accomplish when you assign a student a letter grade to see if it matches up with the broader convictions you have about education, growth, and learning. You could even go further and have a conversation with your students about what grades mean to them. Speaking of investment of time–applications for our summer programs on AI (May 28-31) and Writing (June 3-13) are open until April 19. Check out the full calls and apply now!

Zach Justus
Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

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