If Homework is Assigned it Should be Corrected

Students often complain that teachers give too much homework, teachers complain that student complete too little of it. Homework, when counted as part of students’ grades can have a profound effect. For homework to count as 20% of a grade is not unusual, but it’s not unusual for teachers to not correct homework papers yet still derive a score. Internet education blogs offer ample testimony from teachers about what they do with homework, and the variety of approaches and views is unsettling.

Check Homework or Correct and Grade It

Authorities tend to agree that if homework is valuable as a teaching tool then it should be reviewed in class and proper feedback should be given. That doesn’t imply that it should be “graded.” The problem for teachers is that actually correcting homework is very time-consuming especially if comments are written on papers for corrective and motivational purposes.

There is not much consistency to what teachers do with homework. Some allow “responsible” students to grade it, which seems to violate confidentiality issues about grades. Others tell students that it counts, but don’t record it. Most commonly homework is “checked off.” This may be done as teachers move around the room with a grade book and record something. What actually is written may be a grade, a check, an esoteric symbol, or something else.

The central issue is this: if teachers ultimately record a homework grade that affects a total student grade then there should be a carefully graded paper from which a score was transferred to the grade book. The reason is simple – it’s not good practice to “make grades up.” One might even call it “wrong.”

The Bottom Line on Homework Checking

Effective Homework MotivationAs a formative assessment teachers who simply check homework off so that they can tell parents whether or not it is being done are doing the correct thing. However, changing a checkmark into a grade is not best practice. Grades are the result of a procedure that involves measurement to derive a score. Check-offs aren’t scores or grades.

This issue is one that schools and teachers need to resolve. Inconsistent practices about how grades are determined are not healthy for the image of education. Schools should know by now what to do about homework. But it is clear that a checkmark is not a grade. If students are to be more accurately assessed and evaluated, homework needs a niche in the scheme of things that reflects sound practice.
Homework often counts as a substantial part of a student’s grade. Yet, many teachers don’t correct it preferring to save time by checking it off. The problem is how checks become grades that can significantly affect final grades. Authorities recommend that homework papers are more affective as a teaching tool when taken up and corrected by the teacher. If this is not practical, it indicates a problem in assessment that needs attention.

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