Dr. Ryan Pivonka

Teacher Leadership for Flexibility in Grading: An Exploration and Analysis of Grading Practices in One Urban High School
School: 
University of Nebraska Omaha
Degree: 
Ed.D.
Date/Year: 
2020
Adviser: 
Dr. Tamara Williams
Pages: 
127
Download: 
Abstract: 
Grades are perhaps the most widely used and universally accepted representation of a student’s academic achievement. More importantly, they can be a vehicle to higher education, specialty programs, and access to highly competitive scholarship dollars. Given the wide disparity of grading practices from teacher to teacher and from district to district, the potential impact it could have on final grades for students, and the ever-increasing importance of grades in post-secondary pursuits, it is essential that this is further studied to discover to what extent the variability of teacher grading practices impact student grade point average (GPA).
 
The focus of the study was around the question of what makes a grade a grade? This study examined the grading practices of one urban high school to determine what impact they had on students’ final HSGPA. A survey was given to all teaching staff asking teachers to self-score their current grading practices. The results of the survey created individual teacher scores as well as departmental averages. These scores were analyzed along with trend data of student HSGPAs and ACT scores for the past five years. Outlier students were identified and the full student transcripts were evaluated to determine if the teacher grading practices had an impact on the incongruency of the student’s GPA compared to ACT score. This study will help to determine whether current high school grading practices are solid indicators of students' content mastery, or if they are artificially inflated (or deflated) by other factors.
 
Results of the study were inconclusive in determining that teacher grading contributed to an inflated GPA, therefore, causing the incongruency. The study did expose a wide variance in grading practices within departments and more so schoolwide. However, the study did point to the need for further research on the purpose of grading and the impact of entire schools or individual departments aligning with best practices.
 
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