As a teacher, and probably like many of you, I find it very frustrating when my students ask me this question over and over again: “Why did you give me a C in your class?”. Despite how many times I’ve explained to them that their Class Grade is an average of all of the grades they get on their assignments and assessments, for which we carefully preview the respective grading rubrics, they still think that I am some kind of a “Grade Fairy” who arbitrarily gives them a grade!
I teach Jr. High ELLs and thought this problem was exclusive to my students, as they are new to the US School system. Shockingly, I found that most of my peers shared the same frustration with their mainstream students! This disconnect is not only aggravating for teachers, but detrimental to students’ academic success. There is an overwhelming plethora of literature on the effects of student accountability in the classroom, or lack of, from grading rubrics to behavior. Therefore, I decided to take on this approach, and committed to providing my students with every possible tool that could potentially help them navigate the waters of grading in our school system.
One of the many tools I’ve created, is this Grades Tracker. It has helped not only mainstream students who are fluent in English, but also many of my ELL students who are just learning the language. As with any learning tool, no matter how well designed it is, if it is not effectively delivered, with sufficient scaffolding and modeling, it will not serve its purpose. Please take the time to demonstrate its use in the many possible scenarios. I can assure you, it will help your students make that connection between teacher expectations and their responsibility, and learning goals and outcomes.