Monday, November 14, 2011

Grading Moratorium: Pernille Ripp

Pernille Ripp has joined the Grading Moratorium. Want to join? Here's how.

Pernille Ripp
Middleton, Wisconsin, United States

At what stage of the abolish grading game are you?

I am in my second year of this now, but it doesn’t seem to get easier as far as making sure that I am doing it all correctly. I love not having the focus on grades, and yet still have to produce report cards. It is always a process in progress.

Why do you want to or why did you abolish grading?

For two years I fudged grades, handed out worksheets to make sure I had enough grades to average as well as see kids flourish or wither away depending on their report card. This is not what learning or
school should be. I want to create an environment where students know what they need to learn to move forward. They need to able to explain to their parents exactly what they are working on and what they have mastered, grades do not provide this. I also want parents to get a full picture of what their child knows and where they are headed.

When I remove the letter grade, the focus becomes on the skills and learning rather than that letter.
It has been remarkable to see the change in my students as they are freed from letter grades.

What do you do in replace of grading?

I provide a lot of feedback, and I do have to give trimester report cards. the kids decide their grades with me and we discuss how they want to move forward. Some assignments get rubrics filled in and other are handed back and discussed. Much of our work is a work in progress.

How do you establish a grade if you have no grades?

Through conversation with the students. they are much harder on themselves and clued in in different way than I am to their own skills and needs. It is such a rich discussion and I walk away knowing my students even better. I also trust myself as a teacher; how often do we feel that we have a more accurate reflection of a child’s abilities than what a test tells us. By removing letter grades I get to finally trust myself.

What fears did you have about abolishing grading?

Backlash from parents, teachers,and the students. However, it hasn’t been bad. Many agree and many feel that they have a good idea of what their child knows. The students find it peculiar but then move on. Administration has been supportive as long as I do a trimester report card. My district is exploring standards based grading as well so there seems to be a good discussion about grades starting to happen.

What challenges do/did you encounter with abolishing grading?

Just that I have to discuss and defend it. It is important to have your reasoning straight and also to have a network. I blog a lot about it because I want other teachers to feel comfortable reaching out. I am very transparent with my own struggles and I don’t ever want someone to feel alone in this. It is a big decision but for and for the kids, it was the only right one.

Are you willing to provide contact information (e-mail, Twitter, blog, Skype, etc) for others who are interested in abolishing grading?

Oh heavens yes; please! You are not alone in this so reach out. I am on Twitter @pernilleripp, I blog and you can always email me as well

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Pernille! The Minnesota New Country School has been successfully serving students without grading for 17 years. Having taught at that school I can attest to this type of environment. Although it takes some getting used to for a few parents most embrace this mastery-based system. Once people see how student motivation changes from completing a task to earn a grade to learning because of the desire to learn they embrace it as well. It's really amazing. Colleges have done very well understanding this system too. Students are accepted into colleges without grades, GPA's and class rank.
    It's wonderful to see more educators shift to abolish grades. You are right, we are not alone. Keep up the amazing work!!!


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