By Stephen Tchudi

Comparing a student's development as a author calls for outstanding a fragile stability among the student's wishes and the school's wishes. This number of essays bargains numerous leading edge strategies, concluding with rules for formulating plans of motion for introducing grading choices in study rooms, colleges, and districts.

A number of essays, assembled through the NCTE's Committee on choices to Grading pupil Writing.

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But what can students learn from a B? They don't know what it is that they have done well or what it is that has kept them from getting an A. To be truthful, often the teacher doesn't really know either. I have wished on many occasions that I could just stick a grade on a paper that sums up my gut sense about it. But to expect my gut reaction to be accurately translated into usable information by the student is unrea­ sonable. Having to come up with a grade (and a rationale for one) puts the focus on the measurable aspects of writing-grammar, length, topic sentences-and often forces a teacher into an overly simplistic evaluation scheme.

And it liberates learners whose "deficiency" is anger-at an elitist, hypocritical, power-driven system which punishes the honesty writing well requires. Growth­ biased teaching rechannels the energy of resistance into writers' own and their peers' development (Nelson, At the Point). I view the future with growing optimism. A holistic mind-set is transforming education. The theoretical foundations, backed by research, have been laid. Democratic practice and theory are converg­ ing, and field-tested principles we can trust have emerged indepen­ dently across fields-psychology, linguistics, education, management.

Teachers can praise good work wherever it is found. Assigning an A+ to a good paper says it's good. It also says it can't get better. I have never received a paper that could not get better. I have never written anything that could not have gotten better. So how does the A+ help the student to learn? A grade of D says a paper isn't good, but it also doesn't say how it could be improved. It doesn't tell the student the one thing he or she needs to know: how to become a competent writer. So let's point out the good parts of everyone's work.

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