In the Art Room

What’s my grade again?

Grading in art is so arbitrary. 

(Scratch that.)

Grading in art is a valid assessment of the students’ artistic knowledge and abilities.

(Scratch that.)

I hate grading in art.

(There. That’s better.)

I just finished up grading (most of) my students, 1st grade-6th grade, for the first quarter. I have a hard time grading students during the first quarter because…

1)They’re still trying to get back into the swing of things in art  

“That’s a really cool rocket ship, Johnny.”
“It’s a dog, Ms Art Teacher.”
“Oh… yes, I see it is…”

2) I’m still trying to get them to actually do anything

“No, Johnny, that’s not how we use erasers in the art room. Now please sit down and get out your crayons.”
“As I said four times already, boys and girls, when you get your paper, you can start. You got your paper 5 minutes ago, please start.”

3) We lose a lot of class time at the start of the school year

“What do you mean you’re regrouping the 5th graders in 3 weeks?”
“What do you mean we’re having another fire drill this week during the 6th grade art time?”
“What do you mean you have to leave early for pictures?”
“What? A field trip already? It’s not even October yet!”

4) I don’t know anyone’s name yet

“Johnny, can you answer this question for me?”
“My name’s not Johnny.”
“It’s not? What is it then?”
“Well, I just changed your name to Johnny, because that’s what it says on my seating chart and my seating chart is official. Now, please answer the question.”

5) I’ve got nothing to grade them on. Obviously.

I can’t really grade them on the PTA fundraiser we did at the start of the year, despite our attempts to align it with the curriculum.

I can’t really grade them on the art work they did the first 3-4 weeks before their classes were restructured around their band instruments/math groups because, well, I didn’t have any of these new kids during the first few weeks, the other art teacher(s) did, and, well… we’ll just leave it at that.

I can’t really teach anything of any importance or significance when half the class doesn’t show because they’re on a field trip.

And that day I had a sub is out of the question too.

All that being said, I finished my grades (mostly). I struggled through the A/O B/G C/S D/N grading system and gritted my teeth when the barely-above-a-C students received Bs just like the came-this-close-to-an-A students. Not that I’m saying out grading system is flawed or anything…

But, yeah. I totally am.

p.s. Can I just say, I hate giving grades with bubble sheets.

How do you deal with grading in art?


10 thoughts on “What’s my grade again?

  1. Ditto. Everything from the field trips to the class changes to the fire drills to the band lessons. Ditto.

    Grades K-5 the report card has a place for me to put an “M” meets expectations (or maybe it's an “S” for satisfactory this year) or an “N” needs improvement or an “I” for improving. Satisfactory at WHAT? Behavior? Class participation? Craftsmanship? Following instructions? Meeting standards and benchmarks? Not a clue. So I give EVERYONE an S or M or whatever the letter of the year is, except for serious behavior or participation issues, or excessive absenteeism, which I note on the report card.

    Worse is 6th grade, who come to art on an elementary schedule, but I'm expected to give a meaningful middle school number grade. At first I was told I could give just semester grades to give more time to gather info, but now the computer program won't allow it, so it's grades every 10 weeks. My grades are due soon, and they've have as many field trips, fire drills, etc as the younger kids. I'm in a bind. We've been doing an altered book project since September and they're not done and not going to be done in a week. How do I invent a grade for these kids? And who or what is it really going to serve? So I repeat… DITTO.


  2. Tell me about it. We have always had 3, 2, 1 grades for K-4. 3 on grade level, 2 approaching grade level, 1 below grade level. Then about 6 weeks into the quarter I notice there are 4's! No one told us they were changing it much less ask. So all my assignments that were graded as 3-1 are wrong because now we have 4! (above grade level) Guess what I spent most of my workday doing?
    I don't like to grade art either, too subjective. But a couple things do help this year. One- they have uploaded the kids picture and I can tell which “Trent” is which, right there on the gradebook. Secondly now that I only have one building and see the kids more often I feel like I actually know them. It's not even Christmas yet!
    Hang in there!


  3. Everyone gets an “S” for Satisfactory from me unless they really mess up (never participate, always cause trouble, etc.). Actually, in the 2 years I've taught, I've never given anything but an S. I guess that's a good thing.


  4. Gosh…my district grades on “effort” 1=outstanding, 2=good, 3=needs improvment, 4=poor. I give out lots of 3's and 2's. hardly any 1's in the beginning of the school year. effort in art. ha! it makes me laugh.


  5. In my district, elementary art has been reduced to 30 mins a week. I stepped in by recall as a teacher quit mid year. I have almost 600 students!

    We give 1,2,3 as a grade with 1 or 3 being the best–not even sure on that yet! I've been told to just go by the attendance list, flip through the papers and jot down what I think each piece deserves…

    That said, I think it is important to be able to authentically assess in this data driven age of ours. Especially to advocate for our subject. However, we usually have too many kids in too little time to make that possible.


  6. I, too, HATE grading art! I understand the reasons why – understanding certain concepts, etc. – but the HOURS and HOURS it takes! Classroom teachers have no idea how long it takes to enter in thousands of grades four times a year…no idea…I hate grading art.


  7. Like Janie, I'm giving almost everyone an “S” for satisfactory (or is it an “M” this year for meets expectations?). I only give an N (needs improvement) for serious behavior issues. BUT now with my 6th grade, who are suddenly considered MIDDLE SCHOOL but still come to art on an elementary schedule, I'm required to give a NUMBER grade. What a joke. We've been working on ONE project all marking period, so I have nothing to grade them on and my grades are due Monday. HELP!!!


  8. Wow! I wish I had found you sooner! Reading your blog made me think we were lost sisters! I actually blogged about just how much I HATE grading a bit ago!!!!! A very nice teacher in my district thought I was a bit strong…hey, it's my blog! So, I came down a notch…because she is kind and I did not want to offend her…but you will get my point reading it if you wish.

    Basically, I grind teeth during the process. And, to make myself feel better, I am doing kindergarten portfolios (along with grading) and working towards other classes doing this as well. I hope that this will be clever and successful enough to persuade the Gods to grant us permission to stop grading and give parents and kids what they want and deserve…communication through visual projects and power standards that SAY SOMETHING other than “YOUR KID IS AN S.” What is that anyway? Oh, Lordy. I will stay in touch. Meanwhile, keep us laughing!


  9. This would be the last month! How do you grade when half my classes didn't have school for WEAC (WI teacher conference), then for parent-teacher conferences, then for Thanksgiving, then for a field trip (that no one told me about until the students didn't show up and I asked the office where the class was) then for a spur of the moment hat thingy. Seriously? These kids have missed 5 weeks of art?? And I'm bitchy for asking teachers to be mindful of their art time when scheduling field trips and things? Grrr.

    So there really isn't anything to grade yet, even behavior because I've only seen them a few times. So what am I expected to put down for each of my 500 students?


  10. Pingback: ATHG Presents: 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions | Art Teachers Hate Glitter

Have something to add? Comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s