Friday, June 8, 2012

Throw away your gradebook

Every gradebook I have ever seen has rows and columns that have students names on the left and assignments along the top, and inside each cell is a space for the grades that await each student. By definition every student is mandated to do the same assignment as their peers.

But what if this kind of standardized tracking is precisely what is holding us back from providing children with a more personalized learning environment?

What if we no longer required all students to do the same projects at the same pace?

I've maintained that differentiated instruction and differentiated assessment would be a heck of a lot more attainable if teachers threw away their gradebooks.

Since I threw mine away in 2004, I have liberated my students (and myself) from the expectation that everyone has to do the same assignments at the same time.

Having high standards for all my students does not require standardization, and throwing out my gradebook helped me understand this.


  1. This is a movement and trend that I am seeing talked and written about more and more! It is becoming a formidable issue and prospect within the education world!

  2. Joe Bower correctly points out that maintaining a spreadsheet of marks on work done does not encourage assessment of learning at a personal level. It is a signal that everyone is going to do the same thing in your room. It is a signal that you thing "fairness" and "equality" are only achieved when everyone does the same work, the same way, at the same time. Those empty little cells whisper zero percent at the end of a term.

    However, I do have rose and columns in my day book (okay, on my computer) where I compile my evaluations of various outcomes my students are working on. They don't always demonstrate proficiency the same way or at the same time. It is not the outward form exactly, it is what you are doing with it.

  3. Joe - This is an interesting idea, but I would like to see a lot more detail to understand how you do it. Could you describe your experiences with this innovation and what you have learned from them? Thanks.


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