Internal and external conflicts with assessment

I am marking English 11 this morning, as I await my 2-6pm shift on the picket line, so internal and external conflicts are on my mind. Hence the title.

Once again, the sticky, pokey, confuzzled, and much hated Marking Beast reared its ugly head. (Not to be confused by the much loved Assessment Hero.) Let me explain.

A few weeks ago, I asked students to analyze some short stories via specific questions, using integrated quotes and providing analysis and explanation. Recently, I had started to use short, focused rubrics and and feedback on student work, because I am loathe to assign numbers until report cards force me to.  (And then I am still loathe to do it.) This time, due to some conflicts within myself, with time, with students themselves confused by the lack of numbers on their work, I decided to use my older method of assigning numbers to questions. (When will I learn?)

I am cheerily marking along, providing advice, using my number system, which looks something like this:

  • If they use two specific quotes to prove their point, and integrate them in their answer, and provide explanation and analysis, that would be a 10/10.
  • If they use two specific quotes, including analysis, but do not integrate, that would be a 9/10.
  • If they use limited but clear evidence, and integrate and don’t explain, that would be….

….and so on. Marking English/Humanities is complicated.

It is going well for the first six or so assignments, until I run into a paper produced by a student I have worked with before and who has struggled with writing and analysis. I am thrilled at the work she has done, and drop the paper mid-assessment to text her parent to pass along a congrats and encourage her to stay ‘in the game’ until the end of classes in June. English 12, here she comes!

However, by the time I tally her marks, she has a C. I get up off the couch and walk the dog.

Here’s why her mark was so low.

  • On eight questions, she got an average of 85%.
  • On two, she misunderstood the questions, and while she provided strong and thorough evidence for the idea she thought she was answering, she got zeros.
  • On three, she gave partial answers, clearly losing interest or perhaps again not understanding the questions, but having completed them for homework, did not ask for clarification before putting it in the marking bin.

Okay, so if she got 85/130, that is 65%. Should she have a high B? Should the C stand? How do I hand back a paper with 65% scrawled on it, when she so clearly can do more? Did do more?

My options:

  1. Track her down and get her to re-do the questions she did wrong or did not complete.
  2. Give her a C.
  3. Give her  B, based on the questions she did answer and in which she clearly demonstrates her ability to ‘provide a clear and thorough interpretation of works that feature complex ideas and language’ and her ability to ‘make logical inferences and analyze literary works using textual evidence’, and her capacity to ‘provide thoughtful insight’. This is all language from the rubric.

Given the limited time I currently have to work (voluntarily) with students outside of class, Option 1, while good, may not be realistic.

Option 2: Will. Not. Happen.

So, she gets the B. She earned it. She showed her ability EIGHT times, ten if you count the missteps. If she had done it only 3 times, my choice would be different.

(Bring it, Marking Beast, bring it.)


What about you? What would you have done?



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