The Ultimate Guide to Grading & Feedback

Feedback is equivalent to adding eight months of learning for students per school year. This guide is intended to help you understand this powerful instructional strategy and stay up to date on feedback and grading best practices. The content comes from us at The Graide Network as well as third party experts - all carefully curated for you. 

Table of Contents

> The Basics

> Helping Students

> Helping Teachers

> New Techniques & Ideas


The Basics

7 Hallmarks of Effective Feedback
Giving feedback is great, but giving effective feedback is better. Find out more about the seven most important qualities of high-quality feedback.

The Seven Keys
Grant Wiggins elaborates on the Seven Keys to Effective Feedback in an article that is chock-full of ways to make your feedback feel like a precious resource rather than unwanted criticism. 

Effective Feedback: The Basics
Did you know that effective feedback can lead to everything from better attendance to fewer suspensions? This resource from The Graide Network provides evidence for the many benefits of effective feedback, explains why it’s important for both teachers and students, and compares feedback to other types of educational changes. 

The Essential Guide to Grades
Don’t miss this comprehensive guide from researchers Jeffrey Schinske and Kimberly Tanner! They give a fascinating overview of the history of grading, the current research for and against grading, and specific ways to make grading fairer and more student-oriented. 

Standards-Based Grading 101
What, exactly, is standards-based grading and how might it look different for different grade levels? Elementary teacher Kristine Nannini explains all this (and more) in her friendly and accessible guide. If you like what you see, be sure to check out parts two and three in her series as well.


Helping Students

Retiring the Red Pen: Why Feedback is Critical for Grading
If you’ve ever wondered about the emotional and academic effects of grading on students, check out our deep dive on grading. It summarizes the current research plus teacher insights, so you can develop grading systems that help, rather than harm, your students.

Shifting from Grades to Learning
Check out this teacher’s top five ideas to get students more focused on feedback and learning.

Priming Students for Feedback
Why prime students for feedback? It reduces stress and helps them absorb comments. This two minute video explains how you can prepare your students to receive feedback from our Graiders by explaining what The Graide Network does, who our Graiders are, and how feedback will be delivered. 

How to Give Accurate Grades
According to Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy, grades are imperfect but valuable. How can we make them a little less imperfect and a little more valuable? Check out her seven important questions to consider before you grade any assignment.

Student-Driven Feedback
Students should feel like they are in charge of their own education. This blog post by The Graide Network explains ways for students to take ownership of feedback and provides a sample assignment reflection sheet to jumpstart that process. 

Feedback in Action
The best kind of feedback isn’t generic or purely evaluative; it points toward specific actions that students can take to make their next draft or next piece of writing stronger. For ideas on how this could work in your classroom, check out this education blogger’s five categories of action-based feedback.

How to Build Your Students Up With Future-Oriented Feedback
This interview with author Joe Hirsh will inspire you to integrate more “feedforward,” feedback that looks toward the future rather than the past. Feedforward has the potential to regenerate talent, expand possibilities, and make an impact. What are you waiting for?

Caution: There’s a Disconnect Between Grades and What Students Know
A report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute reveals several alarming issues related to grades: that earning a good grade in a course is no guarantee that a student has learned, end-of-course exams better predict ACT scores than class grades, and, sadly, grade inflation can perpetuate existing socioeconomic gaps in educational success.


Helping Teachers

Start by Setting Goals + Other Classroom Practices for Communicating and Connecting Feedback
The entire first chapter of Classroom Instruction That Works by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler and Bj Stone is dedicated to setting objectives and giving feedback - the two key strategies for making learning meaningful for students. It’s chock full of detailed practices for teachers.

How Give Good Feedback without Burning Out
Check out author Carol Jago’s advice regarding peer feedback and feedback timing to bring your feedback up a notch. As a bonus, make sure you take her advice regarding self-care and moderation to heart; as Jago says, schools don’t need more martyrs.

How to Get Students to Care What You Write on Their Papers
Nothing feels worse than spending days grading a formidable stack of papers, only to see students flip right to the back to see their grades. Kristy Louden suggests an unusual but effective method to combat this phenomenon: delayed grades. Here’s how to implement it in your classroom. 

Use a Program but Trust Yourself
How much do you rely on grading programs that crunch the numbers for you? The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development makes the case for teachers to trust their own judgement over computerized grading programs through a series of compelling examples and arguments. 

Turning the Tables: Student Feedback for Teachers
Feedback isn’t just for students! The Cult of Pedagogy blog details the benefits of seeking such feedback, the right questions to ask, and the right time to ask them.


Techniques & New Ideas

From Rubrics to Grades
If you’ve read our Ultimate Guide to Rubrics, you know how important it is to craft an effective rubric. That said, how do you turn an effective rubric into a fair grade? Jennifer Gonzalez takes you through the process step-by-step.

The Case Against Averages
Educational consultant Rick Wormeli argues against averaging grades; after all, we ultimately need to know whether a particular student can write a personal essay or give a speech, not just how they stack up against their classmates. Read his article here to see whether you agree.

Effort as Success: A New Way to Grade
It’s important to stay up to date on the latest research about grading and feedback! Education researcher Omari Swinton found that grading based on effort (rather than content knowledge alone) increases students’ motivation. Find out how to motivate your students here.

Feedback and Levels of Effectiveness
Are you guiding your students with your feedback or thinking for them? This article explains the differences between overfeedback, feedback with guidance, and feedback that notes areas needing work, so you can be sure that you are providing your students with the right kind of feedback at the right time.

The Quest for Meaningful Feedback
This veteran teacher has spent 17 years tweaking her feedback practices and has tried everything-- from letters to the class, to sticky note lists, to triage meetings. If you need to mix up your methods of giving students feedback on papers, look no further.

How to Increase the Quality of Your Feedback
The research comes out clearly in favor of a few key techniques for feedback, such as specificity and timeliness. However, the research also indicates some risk factors for feedback. Read here to find out how to make sure your feedback helps and doesn’t harm.

Grading Breakdowns: How to Start Over
What happens when you realize that your grading policies aren’t working after eight years of teaching? This article explains how teacher Starr Sackstein revamped her pedagogy entirely and built a new system from the ground up.


We've teamed up with innovative and successful school leaders from across the country to talk about our favorite topic: feedback. 

We compiled their collective insight and expertise along with the leading research, tools, and practitioner tips into a how-to guide for creating effective feedback models in your school.