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About Differentiated Tiered Grading

General Description
What It Is
What It Isn't

General Description

It is said “Necessity is the mother of invention” and this is certainly the case with DTG. Teaching is my second career and my first few weeks of teaching quickly informed me the current way of assigning grades was arbitrary at best. Administration was continually requesting teachers to have a more “rigorous” program. I found myself walking a fine line; trying to assign the perfect amount of rigor in the classroom without being too easy or difficult. The experience was like trying to drive on an icy road. When I would assign too much rigor, the grades would drop drastically. Conversely, when I would lighten the rigor too much, I had students whose quantitative grades indicated mastery of the material, but whom I knew from qualitative standpoint was far from having that level of understanding.  I’ve spoken to a number of instructors who have experienced similar predicaments.


Some students claim teachers give them a grade. Many teachers respond to this, saying we merely record the grades the student has earned. This is not entirely true. While standards have helped to get educators on the same page as to what content is presented in a given class, not much consideration has been given to the presentation of those standards. Any savvy educator can create an exam which would be easily passed by most students in the class as well as creating an exam that would challenge the most talented student in the room without every varying from the standard merely by posing higher order questions.


This was the inspiration for Differentiated Tiered Grading. I needed a system that would provide a fair, quantitative account of student understanding with regards to a known, understood and generally accepted standard. Rubrics were an improvement, but not quite what I was looking for. There are many assessment systems in place; unfortunately few of them supply any tools to quantify those assessments in some logical fashion that is generally understood. Thus was born Differentiated, Tiered Grading. I can now adjust rigor to suit the needs of the students. If the amount of rigor introduced is beyond the ability of a given student, no harm is done. Instead of it harming the student’s grade, they have been subjected to higher order questions without penalty. Students cannot develop these skills without be subjected to that line of questioning. DTG allows a teacher to teach instead of juggling grades to fulfill legislative or administrative requirements

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What It Is:

DTG is an effective way to balance rigor in a fair, equitable, sensible way.
DTG is time-efficient and painless to implement.
DTG is a method that allows grades to reflect a student's understanding as opposed to an arbitrary percentage of correct answers with varying difficulty levels.
DTG is a method that "levels the playing field" for students.
DTG is auditable by administrators and can open useful discussions on Bloom's Taxonomy.
DTG is a system that allows educators to spend more time on currculum concerns as opposed to "grade-balancing".
DTG is grading that makes sense.

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What It Isn't

DTG is NOT another useless "silver bullet" designed to solve all of society's educational woes.
DTG is not another painful, time-consuming process with little or no return on an educator's time investment (you have enough to do already).
DTG is not expensive to implement.
DRG is not designed to be a micromanagement tool.

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