Procedure for Eliminating Grades in Reading

In a recent blog post titled, Do Away with Grades for Reading, I mentioned that I had been in two districts that successfully did away with reading grades. Some readers wrote to me and asked how we did it. I responded with the procedure outlined below, which they seemed to find helpful. The first time I went through this process was at West Windsor-Plainsboro School District under the leadership of Cindy Mershon. Much of what is outlined here was a part of the process that she instituted.

  1. With the permission of the administration form a committee – include mostly teachers (including allies and resisters), one or two administrators and 2-3 parents. Try to get resisters who are well respected in the district, but do not have more than one or two on the committee.
  2. Present the committee with readings on alternative grading and the weakness of letter grades to describe student learning (See Marzano, Guskey, O’Conner, Wiggins, Reeves and Stiggins) The book How to Grade for Learning by O’Conner has all the references in the back.
  3. Gather model report cards from other districts that have moved away from grades for reading and writing.
  4. Discuss the various reading and sample report cards at meetings. Build consensus.
  5. Appoint a sub-committee to design a draft report card.
  6. Have the sub-committee report back to the group as a whole.
  7. Revise based on recommendations.
  8. Keep administrator, teacher and parent groups informed of the work as it is ongoing.
  9. Present recommendations to administrators, teachers and parent groups at separate meetings
  10. Present recommendations to school board for approval.
  11. Hold parent meetings to explain changes as well as send out information to parents and community on the changes.
  12. Make sure every teacher has the proper information to explain the changes to parents at parent/teacher conferences.
  13. Set up a feedback mechanism so that teachers, parents, administrators can forward recommendations and concerns.
  14. Meet to consider any concerns and to make revisions as appropriate.
  15. Continue revision meetings each year.
I hope you find this helpful. Feedback is welcome.

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