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How's My Kid Doing?: A Parent's Guide to Grades, Marks, and Report Cards

ISBN: 978-0-7879-6735-2
168 pages
March 2003, Jossey-Bass


In How's My Kid Doing? noted educator Thomas R. Guskey has created a practical handbook for parents who have trouble understanding their school-age children's grades, report cards, and test scores. This down-to-earth guide will help parents make sense of school reports and offers a helpful resource that can open communications between parents and teachers.
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Table of Contents

Preface viii

1. Getting Started 1

What Do We Mean by Grading and Reporting? 1

Are Grading and Reporting Essential? 3

Why Are Educators Changing Their Grading and Reporting Methods? 4

What Are the Purposes of Grading and Reporting? 6

Why Should We Develop a Reporting System? 8

How Do We Develop a Reporting System? 9

How Do We Clarify the Purpose of Each Reporting Tool? 11

Summary 12

2. Perceptions and Responsibilities 13

Parents' Perceptions of Grading and Reporting 13

Parents' Perceptions of Teachers 16

Teachers' Perceptions of Grading and Reporting 17

Sources of Teachers' Grading and Reporting Practices 18

Students' Perceptions of Grading and Reporting 20

The Points-Driven Academic Economy of Classrooms 21

Summary 23

3. Challenges for Teachers in Grading and Reporting 25

Limiting Subjectivity in Grading 25

Balancing Instructional Concerns with Grading Requirements 26

Establishing Grading Criteria: Norm-Referenced Versus Criterion-Referenced Criteria 27

Clarifying Learning Criteria 28

Deciding What Sources of Evidence to Use 31

Relating Evidence to Purpose 38

Summary 39

4. Grading and Reporting Methods 41

Letter Grades 42

Plus and Minus Letter Grades 48

Categorical Grades 50

Percentage Grades 54

Standards-Based Grading 56

Narratives and Comments 63

Summary 68

5. Special Issues in Grading and Reporting 71

Grading on the Curve 71

Selecting Valedictorians 74

Setting Grade Cutoffs 76

Using Weighted Grades 81

Dealing with Grade Inflation 83

Summary 87

6. Developing Better Grading and Reporting Systems 89

The Importance of Purpose 89

The Challenge of Effective Communication 90

Tools for a Comprehensive Reporting System 91

Technology and Grading 106

Summary 111

7. Making Improvements in Grading and Reporting 113

Working with Teachers 113

Working with Children 118

Gradual Change Strategies 124

Conclusion 126

References 127

The Author 135

Index 137

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Author Information

Thomas R. Guskey is a professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky. He has taught at all school levels, worked as a school administrator in the Chicago Public Schools, and was the first director of the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, a national educational research center.
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"Here's everything you have ever wanted— or not wanted— to know about grading. Definitely a must read for parents, teachers, and students." —Harry K. Wong, educational consultant and author, The First Days of School

"Over the years, Tom Guskey is the teacher from whom I have learned the most about the principles of effective communication. He has consistently analyzed and articulated our communication options with immense clarity. He's done it again, this time for parents." —Rick Stiggins, president, Assessment Training Institute

"The book is so eminently clear and sensible, it should be required reading for all educators and policymakers, not just parents. In jargon-free prose, Guskey strips away the murkiness surrounding grading and reporting, while never falling into oversimplification. There are many concrete suggestions for both writers and readers of reporting systems. A must for the faculty room as well as the family library." —Grant Wiggins, president, Learning by Design

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