Report cards went home recently. I always get nervous when report cards go home for the second quarter because I know there will be at least one email sent my way and at least two or three students popping in and asking, “Why did I get a B in art?” This year, however, I was also fortunate enough to walk into a conversation taking place in the office between two adults in which the phrase, “But how do you get a B in art?” was repeated over and over again by one adult while the other one unsuccessfully attempted to explain. I’m pretty sure people just assume art, especially at the elementary level, is an easy A.
In our county, we start assigning letter grades in fourth grade. Or is it third grade? No, I’m pretty sure it’s fourth grade. The shift from the O/G/S/N system to the A/B/C/D one really screws us over, in my opinion (we give grades for Achievement and Effort, by the way). Parents and students are usually satisfied with Gs, but shift that G over to it’s equivalent, B, and all hell breaks loose. As I understand it, based on how it was presented to me, our county-wide grading system works something like this…
A- You’re a fifth grader? Pfff. Your work is so stellar I thought you were a sixth grader. You are obviously doing work above and beyond what is expected and what is average of a fifth grader.
B- Hey there, fifth grader. Way to meet all the requirements and produce work average of a fifth grader. Nice job.
C- Ooh, I see you missed some of the project requirements, fourth grader… What? Oh, you’re in fifth grade? Ouch. Well, better luck next time.
D- Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?…
Wait. Art has requirements? It’s not all about just showing up? Sadly, no, it’s not. Not only are there requirements, but there are assessments now too. Assessments that, not only do the students get scored for, but the teachers get scored on as well based on how well they scored their students’ scores. Still with me? I never thought I’d say this, but my fellow art teachers and I now find ourselves teaching to the test. *Gasp* But that’s a conversation for another day.
Of course, next year it’s going to be a whole other ball game as we switch to a 4/3/2/1 grading system and we poor art teachers will be expected to give grades in four different categories, with 4-6 subcategories under each of those categories. Make sense? Yeah, it doesn’t to me either. Guess I know what I’ll be doing on my summer vacation.
How do you give out grades in art?