Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

High school grading practices: Teacher leaders' reflections, insights, and recommendations
by Webster, Karon Lee, Ed.D., Lewis and Clark College, 2011, 268; 3498925
Abstract (Summary)

Traditional high school grading practices, embedded in schools and resistant to change, can have negative consequences. Research on grading provides valuable contributions to understanding practices, issues and recommendations. However, research on teachers' perspectives is limited. This study contributes the teachers' voice to the research conversation.

The purpose of this study was to examine teachers' perspectives on grading practices and explore how teacher leaders' describe current practices, desired practices, and actions needed to achieve desired practices. Using a mixed methods design, I gathered data through a document review, a survey, interviews, and focus groups. The document review included a review of policies, procedures and student grades. The survey gathered data from 42 teachers. The interviews included eight teacher leaders and the focus group included six of the eight interviewed teacher leaders.

The document review revealed that traditionally marginalized students (including English Language Learners, Hispanic students, and those with low socioeconomic status) had grading patterns with more Fs and fewer As than other students. Teachers' responses to the survey showed they were aware of multiple proposes for grades and the inconsistent practices teachers use when they grade. They reported grades often lack meaning for students and can have significant negative student impact. The survey also revealed that teachers desire a grading system with a focus on student achievement and a move away from the A–F scale. The data from interviews and focus groups provided evidence that teacher leaders: (a) earnestly engage in and struggle with grading, (b) worry about the effect of grades, (c) are uncertain and dissatisfied with their grading practices, (d) have little training or support for grading, (e) combine traditional practices with constant experimentation, and (f) desire a more consistent grading system with a clearer focus on academic achievement. Teacher leaders also report teacher resistance, internal structures and pressure related to external expectations as obstacles to improving practices. They recommend the following actions for principals: learn about grading practices, lead conversations about grading, and create a safe environment. The discussion presents implications for educational leaders, district and school policies, and teacher practices.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Galloway, Mollie
Commitee: Carr, Carolyn S., Mills, Tim, Ruhl, Tom
School: Lewis and Clark College
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Oregon
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Educational leadership, Secondary education
Keywords: Assessment, Grading, Teacher leaders
Publication Number: 3498925
ISBN: 9781267227447
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