Students assess teachers’ grading habits

Teachers shouldn’t give new assessments until they have graded, returned and discussed the previous assessment in classroom discussions.

By Rachel ’19 and Olivia Klubeck ’18

As part of an effort to clarify guidelines for teachers about the timeline for returning graded work to students, Dean of Studies and Spanish Instructor Eric Reinholtz and Mathematics Department Head Christopher Talone are researching school-wide grading practices among Marlborough teachers. This is part of the newly-established STAC (Standardized Testing and Assessment Committee), which is a larger initiative to alleviate some of the stress that accompanies assessments.

Although students are given strict deadlines and due dates for assessments and homework, the guidelines for work-return policies for teachers are less clear.

The Student Handbook of Expectations states that “graded homework will be returned as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after an assignment has been submitted.” To assess whether teachers adhere to this policy, 9th-12th graders were surveyed about the length of time teachers spend grading assessments and how often students are given new assessments before the previous one has been returned.

36.7% of participating students said it takes teachers more than three weeks to return an essay or paper either often, very often or all the time. 39.3% of participating students responded with “often,” “very often” or “all the time” when asked if they have had a teacher give an assessment before returning a previous, related assessment.

84.6% of the 136 students who responded to the survey either strongly agreed or agreed that teachers shouldn’t give new assessments until they have graded, returned and discussed the previous assessment.

The data indicate that, despite the rule in the Student Handbook, many students feel that there is a need for clearer rules about teachers’ work-return policies.

“Last year I had to write an essay without getting the prospectus back in time. I like to start essays early, so this was difficult for me because I didn’t know if I was going in the right direction,” All-School President Lili ’18 said.

Reinholtz said that he hopes STAC’s work will not only decrease students’ stress, but also create a better understanding for both students and teachers about grading policies. STAC will meet for the rest of the year and next year to discuss broad principles and standards that aim to alleviate some the anxiety that comes with test-taking and homework, both at Marlborough and in general.

“The vast majority of teachers at Marlborough are pretty good about getting things returned. We set deadlines for you, so we should have expectations [and] standards for ourselves,” Reinholtz said.

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