Assessment & Grading

“My favorite part of report cards…”

It’s that time again … grades are coming out! I just wanted to share this. It comes straight from my daughter’s daily class journal who TODAY, as a 5th grader, participated in her first parent-teacher conference. (I swear! I didn’t coach her!)

grades celebrate and improve

More than anything, we must remember that grades are shared correctly, they can have incredibly POSITIVE impact on children. What we choose to say and how we say it… IS IMPORTANT. We all work hard, in our own way. It means so much when those who we respect (our teachers… our parents…) recognize our effort.

Additionally… life is a process. We can always learn more, do more, BE more! It’s important to teach our kids that their effort is import and there are always opportunities to improve.

I got this great example from another SFUSD parent, Julie Roberts-Phung, a parent and career and leadership coach who works with parents  at, (Thanks Julie!):

“There was a fun example of a learning mindset when Neil deGrasse Tyson got two out of three answers wrong on the silly “wait, wait, don’t tell me news quiz.” When asked how he felt about losing the quiz he said, “I learned two new things today, while if I’d have gotten 2 right, I’d only have learned one thing.”

Julie’s example reminds us that even high-achievers in STEM like Neil deGrasse Tyson are always excited about learning. In fact, based on the research, cultivating the “mindset” or belief that we all have the ability to learn, has a HUGE impact on our ACTUAL ABILITY to learn new things.


  1. Research shows that it’s important to PRAISE EFFORT… not outcomes.
  2. We are not born “smart” or “slow”… we ALL learn differently and we are CONSTANTLY learning!
  3. In order for students (and parents) to benefit from feedback it must COMMUNICATE. Kids can’t improve if expectations aren’t clear from the get-go.

Want more?

  • Watch thisCarol Dweck describes her work with “growth mindset” as the “Power of Yet”… See her Ted Talk here.
  • Read this: Read a blog post from one my favorite edu-bloggers Bill Feriter illustrating “growth mindset” in a classroom context, in his post:  Aliyana’s Mindset Moment.

Does any of this make sense for you? What do you think?

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