Making Judgements and Assigning Grades
When you award a grade for a student's performance in an assessment task, you use your professional judgment to make decisions. How you arrive at these final judgments must be as manageable for you as possible. These judgments also need to be valid and reliable. Your judgments are underpinned by the principle that 'assessment practices and processes must be transparent and fair' by ensuring that students know in advance how you arrive at these grades.
Using the rubric
When marking a task with criteria and standards descriptors (a rubric), the assigning of a grade for each criterion should be relatively straightforward, as the quality of the student's performance can be compared with the descriptions for each grade standard. When making the comparison, make a holistic judgment about the standard that mostly matches, or is equivalent to, the way the student has demonstrated what they know, understand or are able to do. It is important to note here that students sometimes demonstrate achievement of a criterion in a way that you (or the writer of the descriptors) did not expect, and which is therefore not described within any of the standards. When this occurs you will need to go back to the criterion and the ILO it seeks to measure, and use your professional judgement to determine the standard the student has demonstrated achievement of. Standards descriptors should not be used in a restrictive way.
Once you have decided that a student has achieved a particular standard (grade) for each criterion, then you have to have a way of coming up with an overall grade for the task, and later for the unit. Grading a task or a unit therefore requires a way of combining the standards achieved for each criterion to determine an overall grade (and mark). No matter which approach you use, results must be moderated to ensure comparability of judgments.
Approaches to determining an overall grade
There are three common approaches which can be used individually or in combination. If you are having difficulty coming to an overall grade for a task or unit, confirm or change your judgments by re-examining the student's actual responses.
1. Profiling results
2. Predetermined rules
3. Assigning marks
Students need to be informed at the start of the semester of the method that will be used in your unit.