Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

James McMillan


In the current era of student accountability, coupled with high-stakes testing, schools have focused on the alignment of standardized curriculums and assessments. However, developing standardized grading practices are still under examination. Grading serves as an important responsibility, yet many teachers still find the process a challenge of determining which academic and non-academic factors correctly represent student achievement. This qualitative study was designed to examine the grading factors teachers consider when determining student final grades. Middle school language arts teachers from one mid-sized suburban school district in Virginia participated in qualitative interviews. The interviews addressed the following topics: (1) the purposes of grades, (2) the grading factors teachers consider when they grade, (3) the teachers’ influences in determining their practices, and (4) how teachers’ grading practices relate to measurement theory. Overall results in the areas of the purpose of grades, the use of academic and non-academic factors, teachers’ influences, the use of formative and summative assessments, and the need for professional development are consistent with the literature. With respect to how teachers’ practices relate to measurement theory, the findings are consistent with the literature from previous studies. This suggests that although measurement theory experts recommend that achievement factors should be the only factors that determine student grades, the results of this study indicate that teachers use a mixture of variables in determining student grades, known as hodgepodge grading. Recommendations for practice include teacher reflection on determining why they grade, becoming familiar with measurement theory recommendations in terms of using academic factors that measure student achievement, how to use non-academic factors in other ways to support student learning, and providing staff development in the area of grading practices and how practices support measurement standards.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

November 2011