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  • Writer's pictureMillie

I'm not allowed to give grades. Now what?

"How can I hold students accountable when I can't assign grades?"

I've been thinking about this all summer, and my current solution is: let kids grade themselves!

I've shared how I grade students on the blog before, which worked well for me at my previous program. Once this new program changes to middle school, I'm sure I'll adapt my old method when I can give grades again. But for now, this appears to be a working solution.

Why I'm not currently giving grades

Two reasons. In an intermediate school model, exploratory classes are treated like they are in regular elementary school: so no grades. I am also on a trimester rotation schedule with Drama and Art, so no year long classes yet.

Will this change: pretty sure!

How are my students self-assessing?

On Fridays, each student gets a paper copy of our class rubric. The first week, I went through each item on the rubric with the entire class, and had them mark where they think they fit within each category based on their performance that week. At the beginning of the next week, I returned their rubrics to them temporarily so they can see if I agree with them. Sometimes I write comments, sometimes I just sign off to indicate that I agree with where they rated themselves. Now that everyone knows what to do, they can self- assess in less than five minutes.

After they read my feedback, each stack of rubrics goes into a file. That way, if I need to have a conversation with a parent or an admin, I've got documentation that any behavior has been discussed with the student. I've noticed a difference with some individuals just from week 1 to week 2, because I really tried to take the time to give specific feedback where it was needed.

A note on YOUR notes: I'm trying really hard to keep my notes to students light hearted and encouraging. Some kids seem to prefer getting feedback via the rubric instead of being pulled aside to discuss behavior.

The evolution of this rubric

This is not the first version, it's the second.

I developed the original version last year with my students after noticing it was taking my incoming sixth grade group a little longer than usual to figure out my expectations. I started by sitting down with my older groups, and we talked about what we felt the most important aspects of class were. From there, we came up with our categories:

  • Physical Engagement

  • Vocal Technique

  • Materials Management

  • Student Behavior

We then worked together to come up with the statements for each category. I showed the rubric to each class throughout the day, and we tweaked it from there.

Student input=student buy-in.

Here's the original version:

After we made the original version, each class went through and graded themselves using the rubric once to see if we agreed. After that, I used it to inform my weekly participation grades, and attached a pdf to the assignment on PowerSchool each week.

When modifying the original rubric for its current use, I edited out anything that seemed redundant. This helped shorten the length to allow it to fit nicely on the front and back of a single sheet of paper. With the remaining space, I added an area where students could write me notes about how they felt about the week, or let me know about what was going on with them that might have affected their performance in class. Below that, I added room to write them back.

Current self-assessment rubric

This is the updated version I've been using this school year:

Download both versions here:

Class Participation Rubric.docx
Download PDF • 65KB

Updated Class Participation Rubric
Download PDF • 71KB

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1 Comment

Anton Lam
Anton Lam
Sep 06, 2022

Amazing Idea!

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