What is your grading telling your students?

Stop! Read This Before You Grade All Those Papers!

Got grading? No doubt, you have a few papers or more to grade during your winter break. Take minute to look below and find out what kind of grading you’ve been doing.

Check these four different grading styles of the same student work. (Hey, focus on the grading, not the content of the test!)

Select the grading style that most closely matches how you would grade this work.




Well, did you select A, B, C, or D? I must admit, I graded like sample A, C, and D before I learned the value of grading like sample B.

So are you wondering why sample B is better than the other three ways? Are you wondering why it matters?

It’s all about the message you are sending your students. So let’s consider each example and determine the message it sends to students.

Sample A
The big red check marks and the “-3” focus on the negative. Combined with the message, “see me”, shouts out, “You messed up and you are in trouble!”

Sample C
The anger is gone without the red check marks, but the frowny faces and one happy face attach an emotional value to student performance. Students might perceive that this is how they made their teacher feel about them, and the faces could easily translate to happy-sad, good-bad, smart-stupid. The +1 is positive, but what does the 3 mean?

Sample D
I am known as the queen of positive, but I can quickly see that this example is way over the top to the point of patronizing. Not only did the teacher do all the correcting, she is also encouraging the student to continue in the same pattern of substandard performance. Even the comment, “Don’t give up!” is a weak way of saying, keep trying. This example screams, “I will fix your mistakes because I know this is the best you can do.”

Now for Sample B
This example acknowledges the answer that is correct. The major focus is on the “study plan” with the implied expectation that the child is capable and responsible for correcting the work. It leaves out judgment and emotion. Instead the message it sends is, “I know you will figure this out when you follow a study plan.”
Watch for the next post where I’ll show you exactly how to train your students to automatically choose a study plan when they correct their work. You’ll even get ideas for how to do this before the test so they get it right the first time! Now that’s a Whoo hoo worth shouting out!

For today, I hope you got some value out of considering what message you send your students by the way you grade. If you’d like some more help with this, feel free to schedule a call with me. You can click here right now!

Grade with the message in mind,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *