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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Grading Student Writing

1993 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


NCTE members who proposed this resolution stated that grades serve as a shortcut means of informing students about their progress, that grades can motivate students, and that grades may legitimate writing courses for students and others.

However, the proponents said that techniques such as narrative evaluations and conferences are much better methods of communicating with students about their progress and their abilities. Further, they said that strategies that help students reflect on their learning are better motivators than grades while those who proposed the resolution acknowledged the difficulty of using more personal forms of assessment, they stated that giving grades in writing courses risk objectifying both students and their writing without regard to the individual goals and backgrounds. Be it therefore


Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English encourage teachers to refrain as much as possible from using grades to evaluate and respond to student writing, using instead such techniques as narrative evaluations, written comments, dialogue journals, and conferences;

     that NCTE through its commissions and committees support the use of these alternative practices by publicizing their purpose and value to the administrations of universities, colleges, and schools, and to the public; and

     that NCTE establish a task force to investigate alternatives to giving students grades in writing courses, alternatives that would evaluate progress in ways sensitive to the needs of both students and individual universities, colleges, and school districts.

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