But I figured I should look up the old grades to see if this is significantly better, and found a class that did lots better than this one (18 A's, 35 people passing). I remember that class - they asked so many good questions, we got slowed down and didn't finish our trig unit. That hurt them later. So the grade doesn't reflect learning the required material.
That class was asking questions from the assigned homework. I'm still willing to answer those questions, but students seldom ask lately. (Why?) I used to make sure to answer every question. Now I watch the time more.
I hate grading. It is a way in which teachers have power over students. That transcript is asked for over and over. (I've had to show mine for every job I apply for, but I'm in academia. Maybe other employers don't ask for transcripts?) I try to make it transparent, fair, flexible, and an accurate representation of how much students have learned.
- Transparent: I use percentages, and I explain my process on the syllabus (could I do more?).
- Flexible: I have more than one way to calculate the grade, and use the max function in Excel to give each student the formula that works out best for them. (One thing I do that's not transparent is to have a grade option where the final exam is the whole grade - if they learned it, they're set. But I don't want to tell overly optimistic students about that option until a few weeks before the end.)
- Fair: This semester I took to heart some of the blog posts I'd read that explain how a 0 affects the grade too much. (A and F should average to C. But 100% and 0% average to 50%, which is still an F in most classes.) I changed every 0 to a 40 before averaging. I chose 40 because my D goes down to 50% (and my C to 65%). I also agonize over making sure my bad feelings about troublesome students haven't affected their grade.
- Accurate: I let them re-test, and I let them take the final exam twice. Do some people get a grade that's better than it should be? Probably some, but not many. The more important thing to me is that no one be punished for learning things a bit later than they were supposed to.