Test Papers and Peer Grading–Why This Practice Should Go Away

It is no secret that educational budget cuts have left classrooms overcrowded which ultimately results in teachers becoming overworked. They make every effort to cut corners and  find ways to carry out even the simplest of tasks. Many teachers employ some students as a “go to” for many things. We can’t blame them because there are many students who are capable of performing teacher tasks; especially in the upper grades. While there is no “official” policy on this type of grading system, parents should know how it affects their child.

What is “Peer Grading”?

Parents not sure how it works, might want to become familiar with the process. After all the students have completed the assessment or assignment, the teacher will collect the papers and return it back to another student. Each student will receive another students’ work. During class time, the teacher reads out the correct answers while the students mark the answers; either incorrect or correct on the other students’ test. This usually works well with multiple choice or fill in the blank questions, but not so much with essays. This is a quick way for teachers to grade twenty-five, or more, tests at one time.

A bully’s dream

While this practice can help the teacher, it is bound to hurt the students. Keep in mind that each test paper or homework assignment has the students’ name on it. When a student does not do very well on the test, and a bully happens to grade that paper, the bully could make life very uncomfortable for the student. Consequently, this stigma and test failure does not go away overnight, especially if the teacher continues this practice throughout the school year.

What’s good for the goose

How many times have you heard on the news about a student who might have been in trouble or did something he or she shouldn’t have done? Ultimately, the story ends with something to the effect of, “School administrators could not comment on the situation because school records are confidential.” Great! I appreciate the idea of confidentiality. So why then, do administrators contradict themselves and allow teachers to put student test grades in the hands of another student? Some might argue that the tests are picked back up and protected by the teacher, but we live in a world where social media prevails.

Nobody’s business

This has always been a pet peeve of mine, so much so, that I have never allowed my child’s work to be graded by a peer. School records are confidential. These records should not be shared with anyone and especially not another student. Students with an IEP are especially vulnerable because other students might not understand the accommodations.

A better way

Teachers have a responsibility to learn the results of the assessment to ensure the future progress of each and every student. If our teachers are so overworked that they feel the need to delegate their job responsibilities, it is time to stop the assessments. Most likely that won’t happen any time soon. Plenty of teachers are able to assess their own students and “peer grading” does not happen in all classrooms. In defense of the administrators, they may not even realize this type of grading system is in place at their school.

Many parents find this type of grading system a challenge and feel there is nothing they can do about it. If it does happen in your child’s class, stop this nonsense now. Report this to administrators. Whether your child has a disability or not, school records are confidential and they should be protected as such.

Photo credits: Clip art

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