Book Review

Elements of Grading

A Guide to Effective Practice

by Douglas Reeves, Solution Tree Press, Bloomington, Ind., 2011, 140 pp., $24.95 softcover


There are four essential questions on the subject of grading: How can we make grading systems accurate? How can we make grading systems fair? How can we make grading systems specific? How can we make grading systems timely?



Douglas Reeves, author of more than 20 books and founder of the Leadership and Learning Center, addresses these four questions and guides the reader along in knowing how to conduct constructive discussions about grading policy. Grades given by teachers ultimately determine report cards, honor rolls, class rankings and college acceptance. Therefore, grades have a profound impact on future opportunities for students.

Unfortunately, grades often do not reflect student learning but rather a combination of biases, including student behavior. Education, a profession that prides itself on progress, is rooted deeply in past convictions. Even when presented with a preponderance of research and data, educators rely on opinion, past experience and the influences of their colleagues.

Reeves takes the reader through the latest research, provides guidance on how to improve grading policy and offers appropriate responses to the naysayers and teachers who are resistant to change. He provides several examples of grade scenarios that provoke thought, discussion and a deeper understanding of the various philosophies in grading student work and reporting student achievement.

Elements of Grading should be useful to teachers, school administrators and central-office staff. Also, the appendix provides reproducible material for use when considering changes to the school district’s student grading policy.

Reviewed by Paul A. Shaw, coordinator of undergraduate secondary education, Piedmont College, Demorest, Ga.