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The Teacher Tip

Reducing the Frequency and Importance of Grades

December 29, 2017

Adapted from Reimagining Writing Assessment by Maja Wilson

There are many ways to work toward deemphasizing grades. None are perfect, and some methods work better than others in different settings. Possibilities include the following:

  • Don’t grade first drafts. Allow feedback and revisions to be free of the pressure of grades.
  • Give all-or-nothing participation points for participation in the writing process, including timely completion of drafts and consideration of feedback.
  • Don’t grade any drafts: negotiate a final course grade based on a grading contract. 

Some parents think they want rubrics because they fear you’re going to use grades to punish or surprise. If you don’t they’ll often embrace an ungraded (or less-graded) classroom. In the long run, deemphasizing grades facilitates deeper learning for more students. 

To learn more about Reimagining Writing Assessment and to download a sample chapter, visit

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