Here are the general grading practices across subject areas that are widespread in my area today. I heard from a teacher in Austin, Texas, who verified that such practices are widespread there as well.
1. Teachers assign no grade lower than a 60 to any student, for any assignment. This includes giving a 60 when the student attempts no work at all.
2. For students who do not do well on a test, teachers should give a re-take. Before the re-take, teachers should re-teach the material to the student(s). How many re-takes are allowed varies from school to school. Meanwhile, students who passed the test spin wheels doing enrichment activities.
3. Teachers should give a study guide before any test. What this means for many classes now is that the study guide IS the test, in re-ordered form. Students can simply memorize the answers. No thinking necessary. No re-teaching and re-taking necessary, either.
4. We are encouraged to use points instead of percentages; it is much easier to pass everyone that way and teachers won’t have to go through 1,2,and 3 above. This system has a lot of flexibility, but understanding the standard is difficult and not transferable across subjects.
5. D and F grades are posted publicly among teachers, administrators, and counselors; and meetings are held to discuss strategies for low performing students. An unfortunate consequence is that teachers are pressured not to have their students on the list, so not many do.
6. Teachers are expected to modify tests for students who haven’t done well, creating tests that don’t require them to learn as much or think as much. This means fewer names on D and F list, and prevents the re-teaching and re-testing.
My observation of the results of these practices is that they do not serve the students or the teachers. The last time I passed out a test to my class, before even looking at the test, a student asked, “When is the re-take for this test?”
I would love to hear others’ opinions, however. Dialogue and diverse views are welcome. So, please, make a comment!