Experiences of Public School Teachers in Grades 5-8 With Traditional Grading Practices: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study

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2022
Authors
Smith, Amanda J.
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Abstract
Traditional single letter and percentage grading systems were created in the early 1900s in secondary schools in the United States. In the 21st century, college and university professors and K–12 teachers in the U.S. continue to depend upon outdated systems for grading and reporting. The problem is grading systems in most public schools in the United States are antiquated and ineffective in accurately communicating student progress. The problem is compounded by educational leaders who fail to include grading and reporting when considering changes to instruction and assessment. The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the teachers’ experiences with traditional grading practices in a large suburban school in Connecticut. More qualitative studies investigating teachers’ decision-making and teachers’ perceptions associated with grading practices were an identified gap in the literature. Research questions were used to explore the teachers’ experiences and perceptions of traditional grading practices. A sample size of 16 certified teachers in Grades 5-8 with 10 or more years of experience were interviewed. Transformational leadership theory and Fullan’s change theory provided the theoretical framework for the study. Interviews were conducted, recorded, and analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. Key themes from the findings showed participant dissatisfaction with traditional grades, inaccuracies, issues with communication, and the need for change. Based on the study’s results, it is recommended that educational leaders act by including those involved with grading and reporting student achievement for effective change implementation. Keywords: grading systems, grading practices, grade reform, transformational leadership theory, change theory, sustainable educational change
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