I have a new teaching challenge this year… giving letter grades for middle school Art! My elementary school added a middle school this fall, so Art has become an elective for 6th & 7th grade, and letter grades go along with that! Fortunately, my very first teaching job was teaching Art to grades 7-12 at a college-prep Charter School, so I learned how to grade artwork and give semester grades while I was there. Otherwise, I’d probably be freaking out right now! I’ll share here what I’m doing for grading. I’d love to hear what others of you are doing, too – so please chime in!
First of all, grading artwork is not about making a judgement on any natural talent or ability the student may have, but determining how well the student follows directions and meets the stated requirements. That takes a lot of pressure off of everyone right there! Having a grading rubric posted in the front of the room as we begin each new project is the key to being clear about my expectations and making sure my students understand exactly what they need to do to get an “A”. I like to keep my rubrics very simple, usually with just four requirements which are based on a 12 point scoring system.
Here’s an example of the grading rubric from my “Graffiti Lettering” project: (1) Large, overlapping letters: 3 points, (2) Placement of shadows: 3 points, (3) Use of color: 3 points, and (4) Craftsmanship (or neatness): 3 points. I gave this project a “weight” of 1, but a more involved project could have a weight of 2 for a total of 24 possible points, or 3 for a total of 36 possible points. Then you just divide the student’s total points earned by the weight of the project to get their letter grade.
Students use a “Grade Record Sheet” to keep a running total of the points they’ve earned (I round up) and the weight of each assignment. By dividing their total points by total weight, they can figure out their current grade for the class at any given time without having to ask. I’m sure I’ll be fine tuning my grading system as I figure out ways to improve it, but this seems like a good place to start.
For those of you who already give letter grades for Art, what system do you use?