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Mr. O'Connor,

I first became aware of your "grade fixes" about 5 years ago through a book study my
school district was promoting. I also had the opportunity to attend a presentation you
gave in Michigan. I became a proponent of your theories and implemented them in my
class. My experience has been that I have received negative comments and remarks
from students and parents of students that have traditionally excelled. I have found that
there is a great emphasis many teachers put on homework scores in their grading that
students that wanted to do well believed they needed to only turn in assignments. When
I ceased to count homework scores in final grades and students who "traditionally
received all A's" earned lower marks (even if it were an A- or B+) I began to have
students, parents, and even other teachers site the lower grades as evidence that I
wasn't teaching well enough. Although I had fewer failures than most other teachers I
still felt a lot of push back from those students and parents that were accustomed to all
Unfortunately I have grown tired of trying to be the only teacher to enact the grade fixes.
I am continuing what I hope is following your model but with one modification I would
like to hear your feedback on. I have not changed the content not the amount of outside
class work I expect in class since before I was aware of the grade fixes. My current
grading scale will count homework as either compete (which receives a full score) or
goes in the grade book as exempt (our school uses PowerSchool/PowerTeacher). By
configuring grades with total points as opposed to weighted categories it will allow
students to get a grade reflective of the amount of points that they attempted. My goal
was to take away the punitive nature of 0's but still provide an incentive (even if it is
extrinsic) to those students that have accustomed to getting credit for homework. My
department has figured that if we offer up to 10% of possible points in this manner we
will still end with grade that will more accurately reflect what students are earning on
their assessments.
I would love to hear whether you think I have stayed on the right track towards fixing
broken grading or if this will result in another version of broken grades.

Scott Szczepanek


It is sad that you have so little support for doing the right thing but given the obstacles
you have met I think what you plan to do with homework is a reasonable, although
unfortunate, compromise.