ONE:  Grading/Marking Periods:  Do Fewer Grading Periods Open Up Time for Higher Quality Instruction?

To answer this question, we must first answer another:  What will a teacher do with fewer grading periods? I have observed in my work that, when teachers are confronted with this question, many issues surface. Some possibilities are that they discover…-they have sacrificed quality instruction because of the demand or expectation (real or self-imposed) of too many grades.-they have lumped assessment, grades and feedback into one activity and extracted their presence from learning objectives. In short, either “testing/grading” is a form of teaching or the teacher becomes consumed with “grading” everything and making it “count as a grade.”

-they are using grades as a motivation tool instead of feedback

-they are uncomfortable experimenting with new strategies and techniques with their extra time.

But worse than any of these is that they do NOT discover or do anything different or better!

In my opinion, one reason to move, for example from 4 marking periods to 3, would be to free up time for teachers to provide quality feedback AND to have more time to teach authentically and “not to the test” as they say.

In the short term, teachers experience a full gamut of emotions when confronted with a reduction in grade reporting. Excited for the extra time! Anxious about what to do with it! Angry they can’t lord grades over students’ heads FOUR times a year. Suspicious if the administrators are even capable of helping them address these emotions. And much more.

In the long run, with appropriate supervision, teachers can be mentored to teach with quality. Administrators have the time to observe in a true supervisory role. Longer-term planning benefits teachers and students alike. Teachers start including more authentic assessments as part of their instruction. And much more.

What would you do with the extra time if one or more of your grading periods were eliminated? My opinion is that a domino effect would commence in two direction… administratively and pedagogically! Chime in, please. I’d love to facilitate any dialogue on this opinion.