The purpose of a grade is to communicate how well a student is learning to the student and their family. That’s a lot to expect from a single letter, number or symbol. With research finding grades diminish students’ interest in learning, reduce students’ quality of thinking and encourage students to take a path of least resistance to lessen the chance of doing poorly, some schools are considering alternative grading options to supplement their current grading process. What is alternative grading? Alternative grading takes the focus off “the grade” and puts it on what’s important—knowledge and understanding. The goal: Give the kind of feedback that creates a lifelong drive to learn. Dylan Williams, dubbed an “Assessment Guru,” suggests “Grades cause an emotional reaction—either positive or negative. Feedback causes you to think and engage, which is reflective learning.” Unlike more detailed feedback, a simple letter grade leaves learners unknowing of whether or not they’ve done well and what they can improve upon. As renowned psychologist Jerome Bruner says, “Students should experience their successes and failures not as reward and punishment but as information.” Alternative grading methods Adopting alternative methods of grading requires dedication from educators and the willingness to change how they plan, instruct and assess. While your school may not want to do away with grades altogether, you may want to consider supplementing your existing approach:

  • Rubrics:  A rubric defines the needed criteria for a particular project or assignment to be successful. For example, a rubric for a writing assignment might communicate to students that their piece will be read with purpose, organization, details, voice and grammar in mind. To truly get your students invested in learning, involve them in creating their own rubrics for assignments. Offering them this input into the process helps them to fully understand and apply the learning goals to their assignments.
  • Gamify: Utilize an assessment process where students aim to master a skill (much like in a game) instead of committing facts to memory. Whereas memorized facts are often forgotten, skills mastery encourages students to think and learn, making it more likely they’ll be able to apply the skills in the future. Tokens awarded for reaching certain milestones can be used towards school logo’d merchandise such as hoodies, backpacks or iPad® sleeves.
  • Grade-to-replace:  This process utilizes a grade to jumpstart the process to improved work. In the grade-to-replace method, an initial grade is given with comments on what was done well and what can be improved upon. Then the student is given the opportunity to rework the project, ultimately replacing the original with better work. This approach takes the focus off the grade and puts it on how to improve. Provide students with a binder or USB drive to store work so past feedback is easily accessible for future assignments.

Traditional assessment is well-known and easy-to-understand. If your school adopts some form of alternative grading, it will be important to communicate this change to not only students, but parents and others who support your school. Send a letter explaining the change and its potential for a positive impact on learning. Invite parents to become involved in the process so they, too, know what is expected for their student to succeed. Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” By shifting the focus from making the grade to lifelong learning, students remain challenged, engaged and hungry for more. Heick, Terry. “12 Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education.” TeachThought. N.p., 27 Nov. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

Kohn, Alfie. “The Case Against Grades.” The Case Against Grades. N.p., Nov. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

Bower, Joe. “For the Love of Learning.” Real Assessment for Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

“5 Alternatives to Traditional Grading Methods | Edchat Recap.” Educational Technology Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2013.

“What Is a Rubric? – UEN.” What Is a Rubric? – UEN. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

“Top Hat Monocle Blog.” Top Hat Monocle Blog RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Gonzalez, Alfonso. “Do Grades Help or Hinder Learning?” Mr Gonzalezs Classroom RSS. N.p., 6 Mar. 2010. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

  April
Monthly
Atlanta Food and Wine Month ASPCA Month Alcohol Awareness Month Amateur Radio Month Autism Awareness Month Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage Month Cancer Control Month Car Care Month Celebrate Diversity Month Child Abuse Prevention Month Cesarean Awareness Month Community Spirit Day Confederate History Month Couple Appreciation Month Cranberries and Gooseberries Month Defeat Diabetes Month Emotional Overeating Awareness Month Fair Housing Month Financial Literacy Month Fresh Florida Tomatoes Month Frog Month Global Child Nutrition Month Grange Month Grilled Cheese Month Holy Humor Month Home Improvement Time (April – Sept)Honor Society Awareness Month Informed Women Month International Customer Loyalty Month International Guitar Month International Twit Award Month IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Month Jazz Appreciation Month Keep America Beautiful Month Library Snapshot Month Math Awareness Month Month of the Young Child Month of the Military Child National African American Women’s Fitness Month National Autism Awareness Month National Child Abuse Prevention Month National Card and Letter Writing Month National Decorating Month National DNA & Genomics & Stem Cell Education & Awareness Month National Donate Life Month National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month National Garden Month National Humor Month National Kite Month National Knuckles Down Month National Landscape Architecture Month National Multiple Birth Awareness MonthNational Occupational Therapy Month National Parkinson’s Awareness Month National Pecan Month National Pest Management Month National Pet Month National Poetry Month National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month National Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Month National Sexual Assault Awareness Month National Youth Sports Safety Month Pharmacists War on Diabetes Month Pet First Aid Awareness Month Physical Wellness Month Prevent Lyme in Dogs Month Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month Rosacea Awareness Month School Library Media Month Soy Foods Month Straw Hat Month Stress Awareness Month Testicular Cancer Awareness Month Tomatillo and Asian Pear Month Women’s Eye Health & Safety Month Workplace Conflict Awareness Month World Habitat Awareness Month World Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month
Weekly
The APAWAs Pooper-Scooper Week: 1-7 Explore Your Career Options: 1-7 Golden Rule Week: 1-7 Laugh at Work Week: 1-7 Medication Safety Week: 1-7 Testicular Cancer Awareness Week: 1-7 Hate Week: 4-10 Just Pray No! Worldwide Weekend of Prayer and Fasting: 6-7 National Animal Control Appreciation Week: 7-13 National Blue Ribbon Week: 7-13 National Public Health Week: 7-13 National Week of the Ocean: 7-13 National Window Safety Week: 7-13 American Indian Awareness Week: 8-14 Masters Tournament: 11-14 YoYo and Skill Toy Weekend: 12-14Bat Appreciation Week: 14-20 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week: 14-23 National Environmental Week: 14-20 National Robotics Week: 14-20 National Library Week: 14-20 National Public Safety Telecommunicates: 14-20 Pan American Week: 14-20 Week of the Young Child: 14-20 (Spring) Astronomy Week: 15-21 Undergraduate Research Week: 15-19 Health Information Privacy And Security Week: 17-23 International Whistlers Week: 17-21 Cleaning for a Reason Week: 18-24 Consumer Awareness Week: 18-23 Police Officers Who Gave Their Lives In The Line of Duty Week: 18-23 National Park Week: 20-28 Money Smart Week: 20-27Administrative Professionals Week: 21-27 Coin Week: 21-27 Fibroid Awareness Week: 21-27 National Karaoke Week: 21-27 National Volunteer Week: 21-27 National Pet ID Week: 21-27 National Paperboard Packaging Week: 21-27 National Severe Storm Preparedness Week: 21-27 Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week: 21-27 Preservation Week: 21-27 Sky Awareness Week: 21-27 National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week: 22-28 Safe Kids Week: 22-27 Mariachi Week: 24-27 National Pro-Life T-shirt Week: 24-30 National Scoop the Poop Week: 24-30
Daily
1: April Fools or All Fools Day 1: Atheist Day 1: Boomer Bonus Days 1: Dyngus Day 1: International Tatting Day 1: Library Snap Shot Day 1: Myles Day 1: National Fun Day 1: National Fun at Work Day 1: Poetry & The Creative Mind Day 1: Reading is Funny Day 1: Sorry Charlie Day 1: St. Stupid Day 1: Tater Day 1: US Air Force Academy Day 1: White House Easter Egg Roll 2: International Children’s Book Day 2: National Love Your Produce Manager Day 2: National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day 2: Reconciliation Day 2: World Autism Day 3: Find a Rainbow Day 3: Pony Express Day 3: Tweed Day 3: Week Out Hate: Snow the Seeds of Greatness Day 3: Whole Grain Sampling Day 3: World Party Day 3: National Day of Hope 3: National Walking Day 3: Paraprofessional Appreciation Day 4: International Day for Mine Awareness & Assistance in Mine Action 4: Square Root Day 4: Victims of Violence Holy Day 4: Vitamin C Day 4: World Rat Day 4: National D.A.R.E. Day 5: National Deep Dish Pizza Day 5: Hospital Admitting Clerks Day 5: National Walk to Work Day 6: Army Day 6: New Beers Eve 6: Drowsy Driver Awareness Day 6: National Love Our Children Day 6: National Student Athlete Day 6: Tartan Day 6: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Day 6: Teflon Day 6: International Pillow Fight Day 7: International Beaver Day 7: International Snailpapers Day 7: Metric System Day 7: National Beer Day 7: No Housework Day 7: Tangible Karma Day 7: World Health Organization Day 8: Buddha Day 8: Trading Cards for Grown-ups Day 9: Equal Pay Day 9: National Be Kind to Lawyers Day 9: National Cherish an Antique Day 9: National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day9: National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day 9: Ascension Day 9: Appomattox Day 9: Jenkins Ear Day 9: Winston Churchill Day 10: ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Day) 10: National Farm Animals Day 10: National Sibling Day 10: One Day Without Shoes Day 10: Salvation Army Founder’s Day 10: Safety Pin Day 11: Barbershop Quartet Day 11: International “Louie Louie: Day 11: National Pet Day 11: World Parkinson’s Disease Day 12: D.E.A.R. Day (Drop Everything and Read) 12: International Day of Human Space Flight 12: Licorice Day 12: Tax Freedom Day 13: Walk on Your Wild Side Day 13: Thomas Jefferson Day 13: Scrabble Day 13: Baby Massage Day 14: Children with Alopecia Day 14: Dictionary Day 14: International Moment of Laughter Day 14: Pan American Day 15: Boston Marathon 15: Income Tax Pay Day 15: McDonald’s Day 15: Take a Wild Guess Day 15: That Sucks Day 16: National Health Care Decisions Day 16: National Library Day 17: National Stress Awareness Day 17: Bat Appreciation Day 17: Blah! Blah! Blah! Day 17: Ellis Island Family History Day 17: National Haiku Poetry Day 17: Ford Mustang Day 17: National Bookmobile Day 17: Nothing Like A Dame Day 18: Adult Autism Day 18: Get To Know Your Customers Day 18: National Columnist Day 18: National Golf Day 18: Pet Owners Independence Day 18: High Five Day 18: International Amateur Radio Day 18: National Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day 18: Poem in Your Pocket Day 18: Support Teen Literature Day 18: Day of Silence 19: John Parker Day 19: National Hanging Out Day 19: Oklahoma City Bombing Commemoration Day 19: Yom HaShoah 19: DNA Day 19: National Day of Silence 20: Auctioneers Day 20: Husband Appreciation Day20: Record Store Day 20: Spring Astronomy Day 21: Kindergarten Day 21: National Chocolate-covered Cashews Day 22: Chemists Celebrate The Earth Day 22: Earth Day 22: Girl Scout Leader Day 22: In God We Trust Day’ Day 22: Mother Earth Day 22: National Jelly Bean Day 24: International Guide Dogs Day 23: Movie Theatre Day 23: International Marconi Day 23: National Teach Your Children To Save Day 23: Talk Like Shakespeare Day 23: World Book & Copyright Day 23: World Book Night 24: Genocide Remembrance Day 25: Administrative Professionals Day or Secretary’s Day 25: Hairstylists Appreciation Day 25: Malaria Awareness Day 25: Hug a Plumber Day or Plumbers Day 25: Red Hat Society Day 25: Yom HaZikaron 25: World Penguin Day 26: Hug an Australian Day 26: Audubon Day 26: National Kids and Pets Day 26: Richter Scale Day 26: Trinity Sunday 26: Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day 26-28: Bob Wills Day 26: Yom HaArzmaut 26: Arbor Day 26: National Hairball Awareness Day 27: Babe Ruth Day 27: Bulldogs are Beautiful Day 27: Mantanzas Mule Day 27: Morse Code Day 27: Eeyore’s Birthday Day 27: National Go Birding Day 27: National Rebuilding Day 27: Penguin Day 27: Save the Frogs Day 27: Sense of Smell Day 27: World Tai Chi and Qigong Day 27: World Healing Day 27: World Veterinary Day 28: Biological Clock Day 28: Lag B’omer 28: National Pet Parent’s Day 28-: Mother, Father Deaf Day 28: Workers Memorial Day 29: National Dance Day 29: “Peace” Rose Day 29: Pinhole Photography Day 29: Zipper Day 30: Beltane 30: Bugs Bunny Day 30: International Jazz Day 30: Dia De Los Libros Day 30: National Honesty Day 30: Spank Out Day 30: Walpurgis Night 30: World Healing Day
  May
Monthly
ALS Awareness Month American Wetlands Month APS (Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome) Arthritis Awareness Month Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Awareness of Medical Orphans Month Better Hearing & Speech Month Borderline Personality Disorder Month Brain Tumor Awareness Month Carrots and Cauliflower Celiac Awareness Month Clean Air Month Community Living Month Creative Beginnings Month EcoDriving Month Family Wellness Month Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month Freedom Shrine Month Gardening for Wildlife Month Get Caught Reading Month Gifts from the Garden Month Global Civility Awareness Month Go Fetch! Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month Grapefruit and Kiwi Month Haitian Heritage Month Heal the Children Month Healthy Vision Month Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month International Audit MonthInternational Business Image Improvement Month International Civility Awareness Month International Victorious Woman Month Jewish-American Heritage Month Latino Books Month Lupus Awareness Month Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection & Prevention Month Motorcycle Safety Month National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month National Barbeque Month National Better Hearing Month National Bike Month National Egg Month National Foster Care Month National Good Car Keeping Month National Hamburger Month National Hepatitis Awareness Month National Inventors Month National Meditation Month National Mediterranean Diet Month National Mental Health Month National Military Appreciation Month National Moving Month National Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month National Osteoporosis Prevention Month National Photo Month National Physical Fitness & Sports MonthNational Physiotherapy Month National Preservation Month National Salad Month National Salsa Month National Smile Month National Stroke Awareness Month National Sweet Vidalia Onions Month National Tuberous Sclerosis Month National Toxic Encephalophathy and Chemical Injury Awareness Month National Vinegar Month National Youth Traffic Safety Month Older Americans Month Personal History Month Potatoes and Limes Month Prader-Willi Syndrome Awareness Month Preeclampsia Awareness Month Prepare Tomorrow’s Parent Month React Month Revise Your Work Schedule Month Skin Cancer Awareness Month Strike Out Strokes Month Teen CEO Month Tennis Month Tay-Sachs and Canavan Disease Month Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month Ultra-violet Awareness Month Women’s Health Care Month World Lyme Disease Awareness Month Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month National Family Month: May 13-June 17
Weekly
Choose Privacy Week: 1-7 International Wildlife Film Week: 4-11 Dystonia Awareness Week: 5-13 Be Kind to Animals Week: 5-11 Children’s Mental Health Week: 5-11 Drinking Water Week: 5-11 Flexible Work Arrangement Week: 5-11 Goodwill Industries Week: 5-11 Kids Win Week: 5-11 National Alcohol and Drug Related Birth Defects Awareness Week: 5-11 National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week: 5-11 National Family Week: 5-11 National Hospital Week: 5-11 National Hug Holiday Week: 5-11 National Nurses Day and Week: 5-11 National Occupational Safety & Health Week: 5-11 National Pet Week: 5-11 National Raisin Week: 5-11 North American Occupational Safety & Health Week: 5-11 PTA Teacher Appreciation Week: 5-11 Public Service Recognition Week: 5-11Update your References Week: 5-11 Dating and Life Coach Recognition Week: 5-11 Intimate Apparel Week: 6-10 National Wildflower Week: 6-12 National Correctional Officer’s Week: 6-12 NAOSH Week: 6-12 Teacher Appreciation Week: 6-10 Universal Family Week: 10-16 National Tourism Week: 11-18 EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Week: 12-18 Food Allergy Awareness Week: 12-18 National Dog Bite Prevention Week: 12-18 National Educational Bosses’ Week: 12-18 National Nursing Home Week: 12-18 National Police Week: 12-18 National Return to Work Week: 12-18 National Transportation Week: 12-18 National Women’s Health Week: 12-18 Reading is Fun Week: 12-18 Salute to Moms 35+ Week: 12-18Work at Home Moms Week: 12-18 American Craft Beer Week: 13-19 Children’s Book Week: 13-19 National Etiquette Week: 13-19 National Stuttering Awareness Week: 13-19 National New Friends, Old Friends Week: 18-25 National Safe Boating Week: 18-24 National Bike to Work Week: 19-25 National Medical Transcription Week: 19-26 National Stationery Week: 19-22 Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week: 19-26 World Trade Week: 19-25 National Backyard Games Week: 20-26 International Coaching Week: 20-26 Mudbug Madness Week: 23-26 Old-Time Player Piano Week: 24-27 Week of Solidarity with the People of Non-Self-Governing Territories: 25-31 Hurricane Preparedness Week: 26-6/1 Black Single Parents Week: 29-6/4
Daily
1: Amtrak Day 1: Batman Day 1: Beltaine 1: Executive Coaching Day 1: Global Love Day 1: Great American Grump Out 1: Keep Kids Alive! Drive 25 Day 1: Law Day 1: Lei Day 1: Loyalty Day 1: May Day 1: Mother Goose Day 1: National Bubba Day 1: National Dance Day 1: New Homeowner’s Day 1: School Principals’ Day 1: Silver Star Day 1: Stepmother’s Day 2: Martin Z. Mollusk Day 2: National Day of Prayer 2: National Day of Reason 2: Roberts Rule of Order Day 3-5: Bats Day 3: Garden Meditation Day 3: Hug Your Cat Day 3: Lumpy Rug Day 3: National Special-able Pets Day 3: National Two Different Colored Shoes Day 3: No Pants Day 3: Paranormal Day 3: Public Radio Day 3: Tuba Day 3: World Press Freedom Day 4: Armed Forces Day Military – Amateur Crossband Communication 4: Bladder Cancer Awareness Day 4: Free Comic Book Day 4: Intergalactic Star Wars Day 4: International Firefighters Day 4: International Space Day 4: International Respect for Chickens Day 4: Join Hands Day 4: National Homebrew Day 4: National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy 4: National Scrapbooking Day 4: Space Day 4: Star Wars Day 4: World Give Day 5: Cartoonists Day 5: Childhood Stroke Awareness Day 5: Cinco de Mayo 5: Kentucky Derby 5: International Midwives Day 5: National Infertility Survival Day 5: Totally Chipotle Day 5: World Laughter Day 5: International Babylost Mother’s Day 5: Motorcycle Mass and Blessing of the Bike Day 5: National Infertility Survival Day 6: Buddah Day 6: Joseph Brackett Day 6: Melanoma Monday 6: No Diet Day 6: No Homework Day 6: Nurses Day 7: Accountant’s Day or Accounting Day 7: Childhood Depression Awareness Day 7: National Teacher Day 7: World Asthma Day8: Donate a Day’s Wages to Charity Day 8: Childhood Mental Health Awareness Day 8: National Night Shift Workers Day 8: National Third Shift Workers Day 8: No Socks day 8: Occupational Safety and Health Professional’s Day 8: Receptionist Day 8-9: Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for those who Lost Their Lives During the Second World War 8-9: Second World War 8: VE Day 8: World Red Cross Day 9: National Moscato Day 9: Occupational Safety and Health Professionals Day 9: School Nurses Day 10: Child Care Provider Day 10: Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks a Voice: 10 10: Lupus Day 10: Military Spouse Appreciation Day 10: Windmill Day 11: Birthmother’s Day 11: Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Awareness Day 11: Eat what you Want Day 11: Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day 11: International Migratory Bird Day 11: Letter Carrier’s Food Drive Day 11: Mother Ocean Day 11: National Babysitter’s Day 11: National Miniature Golf Day 11: National Windmill Day 11: Stay Up All Night Day 11: National Train Day 11: World Belly Dancer Day 12: Hug your Cat Day 12: International Nurses Day 12: Limerick Day 12: Mother’s Day 12: Mothers at the Wall Day 12: National Nutty Fudge Day 12: Odometer Day 12: World Fair Trade Day 13: Frog Jumping Day 14: National Chicken Dance Day 14: The Stars and Stripes Forever Day 14: Shavuot 14: Underground America Day 14: Hyperemisis Gravidarum Awareness Day 15: International Day of Families 15: National Chocolate Chip Day 15: National Tuberous Sclerosis Day 15: National Women’s Check-up Day 15: Nylon Stockings Day 15: Peace Officer Memorial Day 15: National Employee Health and Fitness Day 15: Straw Hat Day 15: Turn Beauty Inside Out Day 16: Biographer’s Day 16: National Sea Monkey Day 17: Endangered Species Day 17: International Virtual Assistants Day 17: National Bike to Work Day 17: National Defense Transportation Day 17: National Pizza Party Day17: Syttende Mai 17: World Hypertension Day 17: World Information Society Day 17: World Telecommunications Day 18: Armed Forces Day 18: HIV Vaccine Awareness Day 18: I Love to Reeses® Day 18: International Museum Day 18: Mother Whistler Day 18: National Learn to Swim Day 18: O. Henry Pun-off Day 18: Visit Your Relatives Day 19: Boys Club Day 19: May Ray Day 19-20: Mike, the Headless Chicken Day 19: National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 19: Neighbor Day 19: Pentecost 19-20: World Autoimmune Arthritis Day20: Eliza Doolittle Day 20: Weights & Measures Day 21: American Red Cross Founder’s Day 21: End of the World or Rapture Party Day 21: I Need a Patch of That Day 21: National Endangered Species Day 21: National Wait Staff Day 21: Sister Maria Hummel Day 21: Victoria Day 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue & Development 22: Canadian Immigrants Day 22: International Day for Biological Diversity 22: National Maritime Day 23: Declaration of the Bab Day 23: National Taffy Day 23: World Crohn’s and Colitis Day 23: World Turtle Day 24: Brother’s Day 24: Don’t Fry Day 24: Heat Awareness Day 24: International Tiara Day 24: Morse Code Day 24: National Wig Out Day 25: Cookie Monster’s Birthday 25: National Missing Children’s Day 25: National Tap Dance Day 25: Nerd Pride Day or Geek Pride Day 25: Towel Day 26: International Jazz Day 26: Julie Pierpont Day 26: Amateur radio Military Appreciation Day 26: Shavout 27: Cellophane Tape Day 27: Indianapolis 500 27: Whit Sunday 27: Memorial Day 27: Prayer for Peace Memorial Day 28: Sierra Club Day 28: Slugs Return to Capistrano Day 29: Acension of Baha’u’Llah 29: International Day of UN Peacekeepers 29: Learn about Composting Day 29: National Senior Health and Fitness Day 29: World MS Day 30: Loomis Day 31: Heat Awareness Safety Day 31: What you Think Upon Grows Day 31: World No-Tobacco Day
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