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Friday, March 3, 2017

Contract Grading- We Want Your Feedback!



Since implementing the contract grading system, I've heard from many students that they wish this system existed in some of their other classes. I can share all the information I want with other teachers about it, but it would be best if they also heard the reasons from you.

I actually got the idea of contract grading a few years ago from our awesome Media Specialist.  After she told me about it, I did tons of research as a good teacher should.

Here are some of the articles/studies /opinions that I read before implementing contract grading.

Contract Grading To Improve Teaching and Learning

A Simple Alternative to Grading

An agreement Between Students and Their Teachers

Avoiding Resistance to Contract Grading (blog)


Something to keep in mind is that I rarely do the same thing twice because there can always be ways to improve things. Therefore, our contract from this marking may look different than the one for 4th marking period, just like it looks different than the ones I gave for 3rd marking period last year. Additionally, there are ways to do it that could be vastly different than ours. For example, think of how a contract might look different for an algebra or a physical education class.

There were two major factors that I appreciate about the contract system:
        1. We can focus on learning and the standards, not grades.
        2. This process should make class less stressful. You know you will get a certain grade once you             master something, not whether you master it for the first time or not.
There are still some things that I would like to improve about the system. Here are my major concerns:
       1.  I want to ensure the difference between A and B contracts are about Quality, not Quantity.
       2. I worry that many teachers avoid it because of the "logistics" of the system.



For students: 
I'd love feedback. What do you like about contract grading? What don't you like? What would you improve if you could? Make sure your comments show you read some of the provided articles. Do you agree with what they claim are benefits of this system? Do you have some ideas from them that you would like to see implemented? Please provide insight that is unique, with specific examples.  This is time for you to give us feedback and potentially influence your future classes!



If you want to look at our current contract to refresh your memory, check out the image below:

34 comments:

  1. I believe that contract grading is a step towards getting a better learning-system for schools. I like that it ensures that students will get a certain grade based on how much effort they put in and how much they try to learn, as opposed to just taking tests and assignments. The writer of the article "A Simple Alternative to Grading" states "if the students don’t like writing the papers, and I don’t like grading them, and it doesn’t help them to improve, then what’s the point?" (Potts) This is an effective quote that shows how the standard grading system right now takes up the time of both students and teachers, and not much is getting accomplished in terms of remembering information for a long time, not just for assignments. The same article mentioned before gives an example of how two students wrote two different essays. One was grammatically and mechanically incorrect, but was sentimental and emotional about a best friend's death, while the other essay was well-written and fluent, but was boring compared to the first essay. The author of the article, Glenda Potts, talked about how it is outrageous that both essays would be graded on the same scale in modern grading methods. In contract grading, however, the first essay would be able to be revised and edited in order to earn a better grade. I think this policy should be implemented in our English classes because it promotes kids to keep writing, and understand the importance of how not everything will be perfect on the first try.

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  2. Evonne B5

    While the contract grading system is an effective way for some teachers to grade their students, it does not work for everyone. For teachers with too many students, keeping track of all their students as well as what contract they signed up and if they are following the contract can be a hassle. For example, a teacher may lose track of what a particular student is doing. For example, if a student forgets to do a homework assignment, yet the teacher still give the student a final grade of an A that they signed up for in the contract, it is not really fair. Contradicting Glenda Pott's belief that "if students don't like writing the papers, and I don't like grading them...then what's the point?" (Potts) while the standard grading system does take up a lot of time, I believe that by making students write essays and by having teachers review each essay personally and give comments that will help the student improve, students will be able to improve. Perhaps this is just because I am more of an English person rather than a math person, I do feel that writing essays improves how I learn. All in all, the contract grading system and the standard grading system both have their benefits and drawbacks that should be considered if choosing a grading system to implement in schools.

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    1. I agree with your opinion that keeping track of students can be a hassle and that it can lead to errors in the final grade that the student receives. Also, what if the student is capable of receiving an A, but do not strive for it, even if they are allowed to change their contract grade? However, unlike you, I am more of a math person rather than English, and prefer geometry over English. But, I still think that writing essays improves the way I learn, just how practicing math skills is how I understand the topic.

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    2. I agree with the comments above because contract grading can give students an open door to perform task mindlessly without giving thoughts and efforts into it because they obtain the thought of, "as long I am doing the work. I will receive an A on it."

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    3. I think that contract grading allows students to be able to reach the goals that they know and believe they can accomplish. Contract grading can help with the stress students have as long as they try their best to get something out of the assignment and not just get the work done for the grade

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  3. I believe that contract grading is a step in the right direction when it comes to better equality and understanding from the student with grading. The beauty of the contract is that the student and the teacher are on the same page when it comes to requirements and what is expected of the student. This agreement is how the contract was born, as it states in “A Simple Alternative to Grading”, “Classic contract grading ordinarily features a written contract between instructor and student” (Potts). Because the student knows what the teacher wants, for the most part they no longer need to wonder if what they are doing is enough to get whatever grade they are trying to achieve. Contract grading can also help to create consistency throughout different projects due to the fact that as long as the contract does not change significantly, the requirements for similar projects will not change. With its ability to lay out the standards for a class before there is confusion, contract grading can be the new way of grading for the future to help create a more consistent and stress free learning experience for both students and teachers.

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  4. In my opinion, I actually kind of like the contracts. With the contracts, I feel that there is less pressure and stress on me about my grades. However, I wish that grading of the contracts should be more organized, for the contracts associated with the grade (and vice versa) can get confused and messed up easily. However I do support the contracts, for the students' grades are based on how much effort they put in their work, which is why I like this idea. I do not think that it is fair if someone gets an A+ for working on a project he spent hours and hours working on, and then another student who did the project before class receives the same grade. This is simply not right, for this is why grading should be based on how much a student understands the topic and how the student takes the initiative to actually try and receive a good grade, as opposed by not trying at all, and getting the same grade. According to A Simple Alternative to Grading,"Not every student will be satisfied with a C, so there are a number of ways to advance to a higher grade. Some contract grading requires that students do additional work for an A or B." I personally feel that in order to receive an A in a class, you have to put in additional effort and work. With the use of the contracts, students will be able to earn their grades by how much they work, which I think is the fairest grading system.

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    1. I agree with you because if students are putting in different amounts of efforts, their grade should reflect on how much effort they are putting in rather then everyone getting the same grade because of the contract they chose. Dave's blog stated, "If you want an A – do that much work. Only want a C? Do that much work." This is one example because your grade should reflect how much work you did and the amount of effort you put. Also, I did not think of this aspect before but as you mentioned, a downside is that it can be confusing on which contract is for which grade because the assignments are different. Overall, I agree that contract grading has advantages and disadvantages.

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  5. I believe that contract grading is the most effective way to grade, for both teachers and students alike. Teachers are able to focus on helping the students master the given topic (as opposed to grading all the time), and students are able to put more effort into their work without having to worry about grades. Students simply know that if they do all of their work satisfactorily, they will receive the grade they want, whether it be an A or a B. According to "A Simple Alternative to Grading", one teacher described contract grading as a way to change the objective of grading - “The goal in classrooms should be learning and retention, not the acquisition of meaningless letters or numbers" (Potts). This should be the entire goal of attending school, gaining and retaining the knowledge. I truly think contract grading is a way to move closer to this goal because attention is drawn away from grading, and more towards educating. And many teachers are jumping on board with this idea, as the same teacher wrote "I have realigned my own priorities in teaching, asking not ‘What grade did this student earn?’ but ‘What can I do to help this student?’” (Potts). This should be the mentality of all teachers, and though I believe all teachers attempt to do this, it would be much easier with the implementation of contract grading. Overall, I think the introduction of contract grading in more classrooms would be very successful to making education easier.

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  6. Contract grading has multiple advantages and disadvantages that apply to certain classes. One one hand, the student does not have to stress throughout the marking period about the final grade they receive in the class, because there is a predetermined grade that they work towards. With this sense of freedom, the student can take their time to fully understand the topic through the activities, projects, and tests that the teacher provides/assigns. The student does not have to worry about his/her work being perfect the moment they hand it in, because contract grading is lenient with simple mistakes that do not affect the quality of the piece on the whole. Also, the student has to exceed what is expected to receive an A in the class, which prepares them for the future. However, there are a few flaws in the system, but I suppose that's how it is with any grading system. In Dave's blog, he states that "if you want an A – do that much work. Only want a C? Do that much work." In this situation, the student who is satisfied with a C is not pushed to work harder and earn an A or even a B. They choose the C, and that's it. It depends on the teacher to talk to the student about why he/she made his/her choice and how it will affect them in the long run. Their standards are lowered by not even attempting to reach for a higher grade. Furthermore, I do not think that contract grading is applicable to all classes, for example a math class such as algebra or geometry. A language arts class is where the student's work can truly differ and stand out from another student's. In a math class, even though there are some opportunities for this, it is more of a right-or-wrong scenario. On a more positive note, a science class, such as biology, is the best of both worlds, so contract grading may be more suited for this class. In summation, contract grading is sort of like a contract between the teacher and student that the student agrees to do the work required and sometimes even work more, and the teacher agrees to give the grade they receive.

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  7. Devina B5

    Contract grading is effective in high schools because it gives students a more opportunity to handle the workload in the way that suits each individual student the best. There is a ton of stress on high school students. These students have to handle pressure from schoolwork, tests, projects, and activities such as sports and clubs. Contract grading allows students to choose which subjects they want to prioritize, instead of being unnecessarily stressed from every single one of their classes. As Lynda S. Radican states in her article "Contract Grades: An Agreement between Students and Their Teachers, "contract grades essentially transform the grading process from teacher-developed criteria into an agreement between teacher and student." This method allows for teachers and their students to agree upon something that works with the student's schedule.

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  8. Emma Amiaga B5
    I feel that contract grading is a good way to get students more included on how they are graded. Giving them a contract lets them know what is expected of them. Some articles mention having rules on amount of classes attended to get an A, some have rules on maximum grade needed on tests. Contract grading works in my case because I know what I need to do to get good marks. I'm not left in the dark and surprised when I get a lower grade. Contracts hold students responsible for the quality of their work and encourage better work ethic. Using a contract can show what lengths a student is willing to go academically. Contract grading also includes parents. Parents will not be surprised by the grade their student gets and can encourage them to do better work. Contract grading works for me, and i feel it works for many of my peers also. More classrooms should use contract grading.

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  9. Weina Xiao A2
    Although contract grading may sound like an effective idea, for it to function properly, it needs to be received fully by both the educator and the students. Although many students are under the stress and pressure of getting graded on a specific subject, I believe they have mentally adopted this system in which they are ranked based on As, Bs, and Cs (so on and so forth)... According to the blog, "Avoiding Resistant","You can’t expect them to have complex feelings about how they are to go about it." This statement reflects upon an excellent portrayal of many students when they are presented to contract grading for the first time. These students have the standard system ingrained in their minds for an extreme period of time that any new introduction to grading may seem taboo or strange to them. However, this can be a hindrance to progressing to contract grading because if one does not fully embrace it, then one will not fully perform what is necessary based on the contract. I feel although contract grading may seem like a good idea, it can only effectively work when "the complex feelings" are gone and are replaced with willingness to participate in it. Personally, I am for contract grading only if other teachers are on board with it as well. If not, then I find it confusing and disruptive because it skews with the grading system mentality that I have adopted long ago.

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    1. I completely agree with this. Contract grading has its perks, but it also has its downfalls, especially if the instructor doesn't monitor the criteria needed for each contract. For example, if it says a requirement must be met, the teacher must be monitoring over the requirements for all of the students and not taking any guesses as to whether it is complete or not. The contract grading must be a strict way of teaching, which should be for strict teachers.

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  10. I think contract grading is a good way of learning and teaching. The student know all the requirements to get the grade they want to receive, and it's their responsibility to complete and understand all the standards. It makes a student know that if they try their best and put the work in towards their education, they will be successful. It's not only about earning good grades anymore, but understanding what your learning in class. That will benefit you as an educated person, not that you got a A in that class. These are some pros and benefits from contract grading, but there is always a downside. As much as this gives a way for students to really learn, it can also make students slack off in their work because they just think if they get the standards done the will automatically get a good grade. They need to understand that you really have to demonstrate that you know and comprehend what you are learning.

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    1. I agree with your statements. Although contract grading is positive in many ways, it can go completely wrong if students use it as a way to not give their best efforts. Completing standards without fully understanding the material is ineffective and a waste of time. This can be avoided though if the teachers using contract grading, check in with students and talk about any misunderstandings they have.

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  11. I think that contract grading is a great way to organize a class. I, personally, need a structured way of learning. I need to know exactly what I need to do to get a good grade. It helps me organize my time better so that I can be more productive. I think many students would benefit form a more structured way of learning. With our work organized we can start to focus on other things. School would be more about learning, than stressing over homework and classwork. However, if this technique were to be used in other classes, it would be much different. For instance, If we were to use this technique in math, the work would be much different. The math teacher would still need to give homework every night to reenforce the material learned from the previous class, so the grading would have to be modified for each specific class. Nevertheless, this form of grading will still help the students, and the teachers. The teachers will be able to accurately grade the students on their comprehension of a topic rather than if they completed an assignment. I would love to have this teaching style integrated into my other classes. My main goal is to earn in school, not worry.

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  12. I think contract grading works toward accomplishing the true goal of school. The goal of school is to educate students and give them a formal education. Nowdays, the learning curriculum that teachers adopt promote students to memorize facts and quickly finish up their work, withoout really gaining any understanding at the innformation given to you. In addition, projects and assignments given by teachers often put students in a state of worry and uncertainty. However, this contract grading tells students exactly what they're going to do, thus diminishing stress. In addottion, it makes the workload on students easier and emphaziseson quality, not quantity.. This empoweres students to work hard

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  13. I only believe that contract grading helps students who want to push themselves forward. By choosing an A, A contract students can learn to their full potential and keep striving to reach their grade goal. By choosing an A contract and having the option to keep retaking tests until they reach their desired goal is a good way to learn and study the material on tests. However, if a student chooses to be a C contract, then I don't believe that it works. By choosing a C contract, a student might believe that they can get away with doing almost no work. There is no incentive to do the best they can.

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  14. I believe that contract grading is not nearly as effective as other ways of teaching. This is because contracts are only as effective as the teacher. If the teacher does not follow the guidelines of the contract, then the contract will not work. However, when the teacher is as engaged as the students, then it could work. However, contract grading takes a lot of attention, and it places a lot of stress on everyone involved. Overall, it is generally ineffective and unnecessary as regular teaching methods are much more effective and students retain much more information.

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  15. I believe that contract grading is beneficial yet has flaws as any other grading system would. Contract grading predetermines what grade the student receives so this is a positive because the student and teacher both know what grade to expect. Also, there is no stress on the student to balance out their average and such because they know what grade they'll be receiving. However, the student must do that amount of work and put in that amount of effort which matches the grade. The student must decide whether their grade reflects the amount of effort they put in. This is all beneficial for those students who decide to challenge themselves and put in effort however some students do not prefer to push themselves. This results in them aiming low. For example, if they decided that the A contract was much more challenging for them rather then the B contract, they would go for the B contract even if they preferred getting an A. This is because some students prefer not to challenge themselves too much and this prevents them from advancing sometimes. All in all, I think contract grading is beneficial because most students put in as much efforts as they can and their grade is rewarding.

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    1. I agree that unmotivated students who do not really care about what grade they receive may elect to do less work than work that they would have done in a traditionally graded class. However, even if these students were in a traditionally graded class, they would not have cared about the quality of their work and would have churned out low-quality work that would have been a waste of the student and the teacher's time. By using contract grading, teachers can separate motivated students from unmotivated students.

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  16. Contract grading has both benefits and negatives when being implemented in a classroom. According to the second article, " Instead of the thirteen levels of traditional grading (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc.) there are two levels – Accept or Revise." Many students believe that the 13 level system is a more detailed way of grading and can give them more feedback about their work as opposed to contract grading. This is not always true, but students' perceptions about grading systems can heavily impact their work. However, contract grading can provide students an opportunity to see growth in their work through the year. For example, if a student turns an unsatisfactory essay in, he or she could revise that essay using contract grading, and now will be able to understand that he or she is capable of writing quality essays.
    - Gauri Kshirsagar B3

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  17. Kyla Koslov
    Block A2
    Contract grading, in my opinion, is a very structured way for students to learn. Time management is something that many people struggle with because they are overwhelmed with work. Contract grading tells what is expected for each contract and gives students the ability to learn at their own pace. What is important with contract grading is to choose a contract that challenges the brain and makes that person think. For instance, if someone originally started out the year with a B contract and did well with that, but later found they need more of a challenge, they should switch to an A contract. Only choosing B or C contracts because they have less work is the wrong mindset, but choosing a contract that is a good fit is the right mindset. One negative side to contract grading is choosing quantity over quality. By this I mean, someone who wants an A contract, but does not put in any effort, should not get an A just because they have an A grading contract. Instead, students should choose a grading contract that they are able to give quality work and effort towards. Overall, I think contract grading has both positive and negative aspects, but is a great way for students to manage time and learn at their own pace.

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  18. Personally the contact grading system is very helpful, as I can see what is required for a specific grade. The only major thing that i would change is adding alternates on it, for example if someone didn't want to or couldn't complete an aspect but would still like to receive the said grade, there should be another choice. There are many types of learning so in order to most effective there should be different types of assignments. These social media components for example are a requirement for A contracts and not many people enjoy/learn the best while doing them. So in order to improve the contracts, to conclude there should be alternate options.

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  19. I believe that contract grading is an effective way to grade. It shows that if a student understands the information, they can receive a fair grade. There are some things that do need improvement, though. If one person works harder than another on standards or a project, I believe that they should get the most credit. But, I do agree with the requirements of each grade. I feel the work required to achieve that grade is fair. I also think it would be difficult to pick up this type of grading systems in other classes, though. Mainly because the type of work we do in other classes will not fit as well as it does here. Overall, I support the contract grading, and hopefully, other classes pick it up too.

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  22. Honestly, I feel that contract grading is not the most effective method of teaching, or even learning. Contract grading does allow the student to choose what level of work he or she can manage, but the problem is is that there is little flexibility when it comes to grading. On a contract, it is a list of requirements that must be completed regardless to acheive that one grade, and it's based on quantity of work. For example, the only thing that really changes between each contract is that the contract for the higher grade simply requires more work, not harder work. I prefer being taught the information directly, and practicing/reviewing it. It is not really an effective method to simply offer a B grade for less work, because then the student isn't learning anything. Also, I'm not a huge fan of flipped classroom learning, as there are chunks of information that I end up missing out on. I cannot say contract grading is completely bad however, as it does provide guidelines or goals to acheive in order to receive that grade. I feel like each assignment should be gone over and thoroughly explained in class..

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  23. Students: note that only comments posted before the teacher workshop day will be counted as a social media component.

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  25. To be honest, I feel that the contract grading system is very fair and effective system for students like ourselves. You have to work hard in order to get the results that you are striving for. The contract grading allows the student to have an option to chose which grade is manageable for them. Although this may be true, there are a few flaws in the system. For example, in contract grading, the difference between a B letter grade and an A letter grade could be one assignment. In my personal, opinion it is more about quantity. It is fair though, if you would like the better grade you must work for it. One solution to this problem would be giving the same amount of work, but if a higher grade is wanted, the questions or tasks should be significantly more challenging. Overall, I personally believe that contract grading is an effective way to teach, but it has some flaws that could be revised.
    Massimo García
    3B

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  26. Matthew Gillespie A5

    I think contract grading is a very efficient and effective type of teaching. Before the marking period students are able to select the grade they want and are given the information needed to get that grade. In classes that do not have contract grading it is very difficult to know how much work is required of you to get a certain grade. However, with contract grading I feel many kids may select to get a lower grade because they are intimidated by the work load. With contract grading you know all the work you have to do by the first day of the making period and that work load can be overwhelming while in other classes you can take it one day at a time so it does not seem as overwhelming.

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  27. Note: This was a "one day" blog opportunity. I'm still happy you shared, but the feedback was required for March 6th.

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