“Grading”/Asssessment of Writing

The “Almost” Gradeless Classroom

Why do we grade?  You have been conditioned to see grades as the only markers of academic success.  But by nature, this system emphasizes competition over collaboration and compliance over engagement.  Simply put, we don’t learn this way—we just learn to play the game.

“This course will focus on qualitative not quantitative assessment, something we’ll discuss during the class, both with reference to your own work and the works we’re studying. While you will get a final grade at the end of the term, I will not be grading individual assignments, but rather asking questions and making comments that engage your work rather than simply evaluate it. You will also be reflecting carefully on your own work and the work of your peers. The intention here is to help you focus on working in a more organic way, as opposed to working as you think you’re expected to.” – quote borrowed from Jesse Stommel, Prof. University of Mary Washington

While this may make you initially uneasy, when you learn to let go of a preconceived notion of what will earn an “A” and instead focus on what you have to say, how best you can say it, and what questions you have about how to move forward from there, you will be amazed at the progress you make.  Your only competition here is yourself.  Certainly, if you become anxious about your progress, please check in with me and I can address your concerns.  If you are worried about your grade, you should do the regular notebook writing, complete and revise drafts as needed, and keep reading.

Even within this format, your work will be recognized as 10% participation (showing up), 50% formative/classwork (the journey of learning), and %40 summative/assessment (portfolio of learning at semester’s end).  This is in alignment with other sections of English 5 at GCHS.


Room 251 Writing Assessment Guide*  In the “Almost” Gradeless Classroom we won’t actually use scores, but this gives you an idea of what is expected in writing that is “effective” or “good.”

  • The holistic scores given will be considered as follows:
    • A = work that is exemplary upon “teacher-ready” draft – shows mature writing development (use of craft moves, sentence structure, etc.), attention to detail (not careless errors), thoughtful discourse (thinks through something in a significant way), and authentic/appropriate “voice” (a sense of self, so to speak).
    • B = work that is adequate upon “teacher-ready” draft – shows glimmers of mature writing development, reasonable attention to detail, thoughtful discourse, and emerging authentic/appropriate “voice.”
    • C = work that is developing upon “teacher-ready” draft – shows developing writing style, could improve attention to detail, focus and elaboration, providing sometimes thoughtful discourse, and glimmers/hints of authentic/appropriate “voice.”
    • D = work that is considered unacceptable upon “teacher-ready” draft – generally lacks maturity/developed craft moves, lacks attention to detail, tends toward shallow discourse, and voice seems scattered or non-existent.
    • F = work that is shoddy upon “teacher-ready” draft – largely incomplete, incredibly late, riddled with errors, or mostly incomprehensible.

*This is NOT a grading scale. Just a set of guidelines to show you where you work might fall.  Writing is always work-in-progress, and as such you may keep developing your craft moves, proofreading/editing skills, ability to engage in thoughtful discourse, and sense of voice.  No work in this course is final until the final portfolio.

At progress report dates or quarter end, your grade in Skyward should reflect where your writing is on this journey based on writing, revision, feedback, and sometimes timeliness.  Semester grade will be largely based on the performance in your final portfolio.  Work diligently throughout the semester to achieve a portfolio that accurately reflects your progress as a writer.

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