How We Got Grading Wrong, and What to Do About It

A few months ago, I was interviewed for an article in ASCD's Education Update member newsletter, "How We Got Grading Wrong, and What to Do About It" (paywall link).  One of my favorite quotes from the article was a standards-based grading sports analogy:

"If you have a bad week practicing, you don't show up Friday night with minus five on the scoreboard."
I owe a lot of my thinking of the role of homework in secondary classrooms to Dr. Cathy Vatterott who was heavily quoted in the article as well.

A resource created for the Iowa Standards-Based Grading Conference several months ago was featured in this write-up, too. is a collection of standards-based grading videos created by classroom practitioners.  The site has experienced an increase in traffic during the past several months, particularly in early October.

Thank you, ASCD.

Redesigning Grading -- Districtwide

Townsley, Matt. “Redesigning Grading -- Districtwide.” Educational Leadership 71.4 (2013): 68-71.

In the first years of his career as a high school math teacher, Matt Townsley was bothered by the fact that his grades penalized students for not learning content quickly. A student could master every standard, but low quiz grades and homework assignments they didn't complete because they didn't understand would lower their final grade, making it appear they didn't fully understand the material. Homework was another problem: Whether he graded it on correctness or completeness or not at all, the same students seemed to complete it (or not complete it).
When Townsley learned about standards-based grading, he saw its potential and adjusted his gradebook so that it reported student progress toward learning targets, rather than their performance on specific assignments. He also gave students multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of the standards.
Gradually, Townsley's standards-based grading practice spread, beginning with a small group of teachers at his high school and spilling into the middle school. By the time Townsley accepted an administrative position, the district was looking at implementing the practice districtwide. After a year of study involving students, teachers, and community members, the district's board of education approved a two-year implementation plan that is now in its second year.