Electronic Theses and Dissertations




Laura J. Link



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership and Policy Studies


Policy Studies

Committee Chair

Larry McNeal

Committee Member

Reginald Leon Green

Committee Member

Louis Franceschini

Committee Member

Charisse Gulosino


Decades of research suggest that grading practices vary widely among American K-12 classroom teachers, and the many factors that teachers choose to determine grades have little, if anything, to do with what students know and are able to do. More current research, however, has made connections between effective grading practices and their ability to compel positive student motivation and greater student academic success. This study reinforces and extends that work by conducting a secondary analysis of 2,996 urban and suburban West Tennessee K-12 teachers’ views about grading practices, centered on six factors: relationship to grade levels taught, district policy, teacher effectiveness summative and observation scores, years of experience, and type of training. A slightly-modified version of the Teachers’ Perceptions of Grading Practices (TPGP) questionnaire was used to survey the participating teachers in May of 2013. This study quantitatively examines teachers’ grading agreements and disagreements resulting from survey item analysis and comparisons between teacher groups. The results of item means, standard deviations, t and g statistics revealed that teachers, across the 6 factor groups, mainly agreed grading can encourage good work, provide essential feedback for students, and that grades of zero can demotivate students to learn. Yet, in contradiction, middle/high school teachers, especially those from non-traditional training, largely favored the practice of assigning zeros for students’ failure to complete assignments as opposed to their elementary peers. To compound, the same middle/high school teachers in the urban district also favored basing grades on students’ completion of homework, effort and class participation—grading practices rooted in student behavior rather than academic mastery. Policy in the urban district was found to undermine the use of effective grading practices and may be a significant influence on the urban teachers’ perceptions resulting in this study. Understanding teachers’ perceptions of grading practices can be used as a framework for identifying educational resources meant to help schools, teachers and students perform, especially in our results-driven reality where assessment and accountability have become the driving forces for educational practices. If policy makers are aware of teachers’ perceptions regarding grading, especially where they agree and disagree, they can help teachers formulate grading practices that promote student motivation, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Training on assessment and grading practices can be further infused into middle/high school teachers’ preparation programs and ongoing professional development. Policy makers may consider a curricular and programmatic overhaul of non-traditional teacher programs to include more courses/training on assessments and grading prior to granting individual licensure or program accreditation. A mentoring program to match teachers demonstrating effective grading practices with those that are not can be developed to help teachers improve their teaching and promote use of effective instructional and grading practices.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.