This is a question that is capturing educational blog space. It’s pretty straight forward. A simple question deserves a simple answer – no, they should not be graded! Formative assessment is the pinnacle of a feedback loop that allows students to take risks, grow, trust, and – endgame – learn. Once a risk is “counted,” you can be sure that a student will slow down, if not completely stop taking risks. You can also be sure that trust will be eroded. Tied to these downturns is, of course, that learning will also be impacted.

If grades are necessary to measure student progress, and our current education culture supports this notion, then have more summative assessments. Why wait until the end of a chapter or a unit? The longer you wait to test your water, the greater the risk the result will not be the outcome you expect. Insert more assessments that are considered “counted (aka summative assessments),” but allow students to challenge themselves and improve their understanding through the safe harbors of formative assessments. They are the practice that allows success on game day.

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