Friday, July 7, 2017

How To Save Time Grading Tests

In January, I joined the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.  January's theme was all about assessment.  I learned that grading assessments is very time-consuming for other teachers.  It has never been all that time-consuming for me, so I thought it would be helpful to share how I grade tests.

As a frame of reference, my tests are typically graded in under 42 minutes for a class of 24 students.  (Unless there were proofs.  Grading proofs will take longer.)

It may be helpful to understand how I structure my tests.  For more information on how I create my unit tests, see my previous post.

For grading these tests, I grade one page at a time.  The multiple choice almost always takes up the entire first page.   When I finish the page, I turn it over, and grade the next student's first page.  Since students only write their names on the first page, once I turn the page, I don't know whose test I am grading.  This allows for unbiased grading of the short answer questions.  When a student does something crazy I will look back at who it is and make a note to talk about that problem with them, but for the most part, I like not knowing whose test I am grading.

Grading one page at a time is a sort of "batching".  Batching is something that is frequently discussed in the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.  When you batch a task, you make the task easier to focus on.  When I grade one page at a time, I am grading the same few questions repeatedly.  This is the main time saver.  After the first few tests, I have the answers memorized, I know the common mistakes that are popping up, and I know how many points they lose for those mistakes.  It becomes faster and easier to grade the question and then move on.  Of course, the longer written answer questions will take a little longer to grade, but the same principle applies.

This is how I have always graded my tests, and I was surprised to learn that not all teachers grade this way.  Everyone has their preferences and procedures.  Do what works best for you.  I just thought my method would be worth sharing since I've never found grading to be time-consuming.

Grading is the one thing that I rarely take home with me.  I will begin grading the multiple choice toward the end of the class period when most students are finished, and then finish grading during my preps.  The only time I grade at home is when my prep time had to be used for another task or meeting.

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