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An In-Depth Look at Grading

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, Mr. David Steere and Dr. Victor Parkinson
July 12, 2022

In this summer edition of INSIDE THE CONVERSATION, “An In-Depth Look at Grading”, we share the important work of the Machon Siach Faculty Beit Midrash on Grading. The Grading group researched the history of grading and examined its impact on our school culture. Several members of the group explored a number of possible alternatives to standard grading. This edition features three papers produced by Faculty Beit Midrash members and a recording of Machon Siach’s recent convening on The Grading Ecosystem.

We invite you to READ. WATCH. SHARE.

RABBI TULLY HARCSZTARK’S paper, “Disrupting the Grading Ecosystem”, examines the history of grading and the different roles that grading has played. The paper acknowledges that we all contribute to the stressful culture of American schooling rooted in high stakes grading.

MR. DAVID STEERE’S paper “Peer Assessment in AP Government and History Classes” articulates how grading can be problematic, especially in advanced courses like APs, where students’ high achievement can lead to undue focus on grading. By describing the methodology and results of a peer grading approach, Mr. Steere offers an alternative to current classroom hierarchies that attunes students to the purpose and meaning of grades as a reflection of learning.

DR. VICTOR PARKINSON’S paper “Objectivity and Subjectivity in Grading” describes a rubric-based, year-long grading experiment that emphasizes discrete skills rather than the broader and less defined categories promoted by letter grades. With detailed disciplinary insight, this paper demonstrates how enumerating the precise aptitudes within each letter grade can increase student self-awareness and prompt improvement in specific areas of learning.

WATCH… We are pleased to share the first session of the Machon Siach Convening on The Grading Ecosystem, featuring three presentations by SAR High School faculty:

  • Rabbi Tully Harcsztark spoke about “The Grading Ecosystem,” Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz shared “A Report from the Classroom: What does the classroom look like when the power of grading is put down?” and Mr. Michael Courtney described “The Impact of Grading on the College Guidance Process.”
  • The three presentations were followed by a brief Q&A.

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Rabbi Tully Harcsztark

Rabbi Harcsztark is the Founding Principal of SAR High School and Dean of Machon Siach. He is the recipient of the 2017 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Other Work by this Educator Mr. David Steere

Mr. David Steere

Mr. David Steere received his B.A. from Princeton University in Psychology and M.A. in History and Education from Hunter College. Mr. Steere teaches U.S. History, AP U.S. History, and AP Comparative Government and Politics at SAR High School.

Other Work by this Educator Dr. Victor Parkinson

Dr. Victor Parkinson

Dr. Parkinson earned a PhD in physics from Tufts University in 2014, specializing in quantum field theory and cosmology. He has taught physics at Salem State University and Wentworth Institute of Technology, and he founded the physics program at Excel Academy Charter High School.

Other Work by this Educator