Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization
Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas
Chapter Fourteen: Journey into Ungrading
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Journey INTO Ungrading
HADLEY J. FERGUSON
It is often easy to identify the beginning of an adventure, but where that journey will take you is usually a mystery. That was certainly the case with my adventure into ungrading and using portfolios for assessment. There have been many unexpected twists and turns in the road, unanticipated challenges as well as significant and rewarding successes. When I asked my administration if I could teach an ungraded class, I knew that I was stepping away from the security of my established practice and into a place where all of my skills and knowledge would have to be applied in fresh ways. A new adventure was truly starting. I asked for and was given permission to teach the only ungraded class in my school. The school was in a time of transition, and teachers had been challenged to experiment with the best strategies for meeting the changing needs of 21st-century students. My class, seventh-grade history, became a place where learning took place within a new set of standards and expectations. While there were a wide variety of assignments and assessments, none of them was going to end in a grade.
Over the course of my career, I have moved from believing that bad grades were motivational to seeing them as tools that often reprimand and demoralize students. I have rarely seen the response to a bad grade be energy...
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