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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Gregory D. Warsen
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Making Grades Matter: Connections Between Teacher Grading Practices and Attention to State Assessment
Dr. Patricia Reeves, Chair
Dr. Walter Burt
Dr. Michael Stearns
Date: Friday, March 1, 2013 1 to 3 p.m.
Grand Rapids Beltline Campus, Room 3005
Research suggests that traditional grading practices are fraught with subjective problems and that many factors go into grading that have little, if anything, to do with what a student knows or is able to do. More recent research, however, has made connections between teacher assigned grades and subsequent performance on the American College Test using correlational studies. This study reinforces and extends that work by, first, testing the relationship between Grade Point Averages (GPAs) and ACT scores for four graduating high school classes in two case study high schools. Then, this study qualitatively examines teacher thinking and decision making around planning instruction, assessment of student learning and grading practice with math and language arts teachers from the case high schools. Finally, this study examines how teachers react and respond when presented with correlational analyses of student grades and ACT scores over four graduating classes and asked for their reflections and interpretations of those correlations.
The results of a Pearson Product Moment analysis found that correlations between math and ELA grades for the four graduating classes tested to be positive and significant. Qualitative findings from interviews with ELA and math teachers from the case study schools indicate a high degree of intentionality on the part of teachers to connect their instruction, assessment, and grading decisions to state standards and to position students for successful performance on the ACT. When positive and significant correlations between grades and ACT scores are presented to teachers, they voice an expectation that this will be the case. Some teacher disenfranchisement from less autonomous decision making in these areas is also noted.