The first question asked by a student who receives a test back is “What is my grade?” or “How much was this out of?”. Once corrections start the next question is usually “How many points was this mistake/problem worth?”. As teachers we wish the questions were about the content and furthering learning. The problem is we and the students have created a culture of point mongering. A mindset shift is required to get us all refocused on the learning.

     I came across this resource from the Teaching Channel. This teacher, Leah Alcala, explains her innovative way to change the focus from points to what was learned and what still needs to be learned. This is part of the mindset shift required by both teachers and students to make standards based grading possible.

Note: This is for a math class, but the concept could be applied to most subjects! I tried it in my Chemistry class and all students were engaged!  Students need training on how to help each other (giving your paper to someone to copy is not helping them) and work together. My favorite part of this was seeing them dissect their mistakes to figure out what went wrong.

highlighting mistakes

Alcala, L. (22, August 2015). Highlighting Mistakes: A Grading Strategy. Retrieved March 06, 2017, from


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