10 Tips: How Not to Grade

Teachers get swamped several times a year with grading, often under tight deadlines. Based on some recent interactions in my life, here are my top 10 tips (that you shouldn’t follow):


1. Don’t bother assessing students on what you actually taught them. When grading time comes, look for something new you can use to arbitrarily separate the students into “good” and “bad” categories.


2. If you made a rubric, don’t follow it. Use your intuition to decide instead. When students complain, make up a reason to justify your choices.


3. If you don’t like the rubric that you made, find someone else to blame for it. Anyone who offered you any help with it would be a great target. Try telling them it was just impossible to use their rubric that they forced on you, even if they didn’t. (Blaming is a great way to make friends too.)


4. Make sure that you take into consideration what you know students were thinking. It doesn’t matter what they actually did, the only important thing is what they thought. Obviously, as the teacher you can easily know exactly what your students thoughts and motivations were when they did their work.


5. Always look at the student’s names (and pictures, if possible) while you are grading so you can remember every feeling you had about that student all term while you are objectively looking at their final assessments.


6. Look very carefully for any minuscule details (such as a single misspelling in a 3000 word essay) that you can use to base the entire grade on. Make sure this detail has more weight than anything else.


7. Likewise, if there is any bureaucratic policy you can follow to the point of giving completely unfair grades, apply that as consistently (or inconsistently) as you like.


8. Whenever you can, change the standards that you use. Grade some students under one set of criteria and other students under a totally different one. It’s fun to change things up from one class to the next or between boys and girls.


9. Don’t look too closely at student work. Just try to get the gist and make lots of assumptions to fill in the gaps of whatever you don’t want to bother reading. Grading goes a lot faster if you just skim and skip whole sections that look boring.


10. If you don’t like your final numbers when you’re done, just tweak them. Feel free to adjust lots of grades in one class so that the average is completely identical to another class, even if they performed differently. Or, if you think one class actually is not as good as another but their grades say differently, make sure their grades reflect your own beliefs.



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Jay teaches English in Asia and loves skepticism and teaching above all else.

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