Liberating Assessment from Grading: Theory and Research, Part I | Jared Colley | 6 Min Read

Those who choose education as their profession must answer one basic question about their purpose. How they answer this question will largely determine the direction of their career, how they go about their work, and how they judge their success. No other question about their role as an educator will be more important.

That one basic question is this:

Is my purpose to select talent, or is it to develop talent?

Thomas Guskey, 2015

At my school one of our norms is to start with questions, whether that be in a meeting, a class with students, or a new project we plan to start. But before we ask ourselves how we might liberate assessment practice from the specter of the grade, consider Thomas Guskey’s advice from On Your Mark: Challenging the Conventions of Grading and Reporting:

“Clarifying the purpose of grades… always must come first. All related changes in policy and practice can then be guided by that agreed-upon purpose statement.”

Thomas Guskey. On Your Mark: Challenging the Conventions of Grading and Reporting, 2015

If our methods are always shaped, first and foremost, by purpose, I suggest we start with…

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Jared Colley

Jared Colley has been Upper School Head of Learning & Innovation at the The Mount Vernon School (GA) since July 2020. Previously, he was English Department Chair at The Oakridge School (TX) since August 2010. He has been an OESIS Network Leader since August 2017.