To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Subject: Grading policy for homework
I am still in college, but I will have my teaching certificate next year in secondary math. I am actually writing a paper right now comparing assessment policies of US schools and those of European schools I visited last summer. Here is a question: many of you are saying that you grade homework on effort, since it is meant to be a learning experience. But, if homework is meant to be assigned so that students can practice the material on their own, why count it for points at all? I have been thinking about this since in college, you almost never get credit for doing homework. I know this is because in college you assume students are more responsible for their own learning, and take it upon themselves to do the work when they need to. But why not extend this high expectation to high school students? If we expect them to do what they don't understand, then students who understand the material will not be penalized for not doing the homework they consider "busy work," and students who do not understand the material will either (a) do the homework or (b) not do the homework and do poorly on the quizzes. This would eliminate students copying answers down in order to get credit, and it would eliminate a lot of the grade keeping you have to do. You could still allow a few minutes of class time for questions, so those who did the homework and had minor troubles could be helped briefly in class. You all probably think I'm some silly student with idealistic views of teaching who will change my views when I actually start teaching, and maybe I will. But this strategy does work in Europe, and it does work in college. I think the only way to make it work in high school is to expect it, and students will have no choice but to learn how to work with it.
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