“We Don’t Grade Behavior, Effort, or Participation At My School:” Actually, you kinda do…

It dawned on me the other day that everything typically graded in school comes down to behavior, effort, and/or participation. It doesn’t matter what your grading categories are, what you’ve renamed them to be, or what policy supposedly is in place. This is inescapable…

Typical instruction, especially across content areas, in addition to non-communicative language instruction, involves presenting content to students, having them practice, and then produce something showing mastery, or some kind of performance. So, in the PPP model, teachers take care of that first P, and then design or create opportunities for the other two.


Whether or not students actually DO the practicing or producing is entirely up to them. This could be a matter of effort; high levels of it resulting in being more engaged, and/or on-task. If not effort, there’s the matter of behavior. Students with good behavior are also more engaged, and/or on-task. Students who also participate more have more opportunities to interact with the content, and possibly discover any gaps required to complete that final  product. These final products are typically graded. Thus, students are rewarded with a grade for all those behavior, effort, and participation processes during practicing & producing; we could call them anything, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re present in reality.

So, tell us again how that isn’t considered effort, behavior, or participation?

7 thoughts on ““We Don’t Grade Behavior, Effort, or Participation At My School:” Actually, you kinda do…

  1. The difference is, at least in my case, we are assessing the results of such and not the actual thing. For example, we are not assessing effort, behavior, or participation, but the results of such things. For me, it’s not necessary to assess those things because if those things are evident, they will show up in other assessments. If a student behaves in such a way that their behavior impedes acquisition, then it will show up in their listening, reading, writing, and/or speaking assessments. There’s no reason to assess it directly. Are we assessing it indirectly, yes we are, but there is a difference between assessing it directly and assessing the results of the action, much like there’s a difference between assessing grammar explicitely or implicetly. 🙂

    • Clarification: grading not assessing.

      However, I agree; one way or the other, it’s graded whether direct, or indirect. Not sure about grammar; that’s a bit different. Grading explicit grammar knowledge has profound negative effects. If one were to grade implicit grammar knowledge, the grade would be less disastrous.

      As for behavior, effort, and participation, I would argue that you could grade them either directly, or indirectly interchangeably without any change in the result (proficiency). In other words, you’d probably have the same results if you switched to grading behavior exclusively, and instead listening proficiency as a byproduct, etc.

      However, the only question would then be whether one is more affective. Action research, anyone?

  2. So, with a standards-based assessment for which students are evaluated on the performance of an authentic, spontaneous task, this may be different? Asking for a friend.

  3. Some kids create their own path outside of school. My son has been studying math on YouTube in the evenings for years. He couldnt pass 6th grade math because he wouldn’t participate in the class. In the beginning of 7th, a proficiency test placed him in Algebra 2.

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