What’s Fair and Meaningful for Grading Students with Disabilities?

Guskey_t120x148 Jung_l120x148Grading students with disabilities can present a Sophie’s Choice for educators:

Failing students with disabilities who have shown tremendous effort and progress clearly seems unfair. Giving passing marks to students who have not met prescribed performance standards also seems wrong.

In fact, as Thomas Guskey and Lee Ann Jung write in “Grading Exceptional Learners,” when students receive inflated grades based on material that is not appropriate to their skill level, they actually lose motivation (Ring & Reetz, 2000).

How can educators create fair and meaningful grades for students with disabilities, those receiving intensive intervention in an RTI model, or even students struggling because they are English language learners?

At ASCD’s Teaching and Learning Conference, Gusky and Jung demonstrate a five-step model (PDF) for grading and reporting achievement of struggling students, including determining appropriate expectations, necessary adaptations or modifications, criteria on which to base grades, and how to communicate expectations and the meaning of grades to parents and students.

The 2010 ASCD Teaching and Learning conference session “Fair and Meaningful Grades for Students with Disabilities” will be presented Friday, October 29, 2010. Recordings of this presentation will be available for purchase after the event.