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A significant amount of recent literature has focused on classroom assessment and grading as essential aspects of effective teaching. There is an increased scrutiny of assessment as indicated by the popularity of performance assessment and portfolios, newly established national assessment competencies for teachers (Standards, 1990), and the interplay between learning, motivation, as assessment (Brookhart, 1993, 1994; Tittle, 1994). In Virginia, the Standards of Learning and associated tests highlight the importance of assessment.
Previous research documents that teachers tend to award a "hodgepodge grade of attitude, effort, and achievement" (Brookhart, 1991, p. 36). It is also clear that teachers use a variety of assessment techniques, even if established measurement principles are often violated (Cross & Frary, 1996; Frary, Cross, & Weber, 1993; Plake & Impara, 1993; and Stiggins & Conklin, 1992).
Given the variety of assessment and grading practices in the field, the increasing importance of assessment, the critical role each classroom teacher plays in determining assessments and grades, and the trend toward great accountability for teachers with state assessment approaches are inconsistent with much of the current literature, there is a need to (1) understand current assessment and grading practices (2) understand the relationship of these practices to grades given by teachers, (3) determine if "standards" teachers use to assign grades different from one classroom to another and one school to another, (4) examine the consequential validity of the new SOL tests on classroom assessment practices and (5) determine assessment and grading topic that, according to teachers, need in-service.
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VCU MERC Publications