17 Best Grading Practices and 17 Must-Know Tools for Teachers

May 16, 2024

Grading practices are essential tools for teachers to assess and evaluate students' performance effectively. Understanding the best practices for grading can help teachers develop a fair and consistent evaluation method. Teachers can leverage various strategies, tools, and techniques to enhance the grading process and provide students with constructive feedback. Explore the blog post to discover how to implement effective grading practices in your teaching approach.

What Is the Grading Process?

Grading is the process by which a teacher assesses student learning through classroom tests and assignments, the context in which good teachers establish that process, and the dialogue that surrounds grades and defines their meaning to various audiences. Essentially, grading is the evaluation of a student's performance based on specific criteria and standards set by the institution or the teacher. Grading practices vary across different educators and institutions.The central goal of grading is to assess student learning and provide constructive feedback to help students improve their performance. 

The Importance of Consistency and Fairness in Grading Practices

Consistency and fairness are essential aspects of grading practices. Consistency ensures that all students are evaluated using the same criteria and standards, providing equal opportunities for every student. If grading is inconsistent, some students may be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged, which can undermine the credibility of the grading process and the teacher's authority. 

Fairness in grading practices ensures that each student is assessed impartially based on their performance and not on other factors like personal bias or favoritism. When grading is fair, students are more likely to trust the assessment and feedback provided by their teacher.

Creating Assignments, Evaluating Student Work, Recording Grades, and Communicating with Students and Parents

Creating assignments is the first step in the grading process. Teachers design tasks and projects that align with the learning goals and outcomes of their courses. Evaluating student work involves assessing the quality of assignments based on predetermined criteria and providing feedback to students on their performance. 

Recording grades is essential for keeping track of individual student progress and reporting the results accurately. Communicating grades to students and parents is crucial for enhancing student learning and involving parents in their child's academic development. By communicating grades effectively, teachers can motivate students to improve their performance and help parents support their child's educational journey.

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With EssayGrader, Teachers can:

  • Replicate their grading rubrics (so AI doesn't have to do the guesswork to set the grading criteria)
  • Setup fully custom rubrics
  • Grade essays by class
  • Bulk upload of essays
  • Use our AI detector to catch essays written by AI
  • Summarize essays with our Essay summarizer 

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What Are the Four Major Roles of the Grading Process?

Feedback  plays  an  important  role  in  the  field  of  education  such that  it  provides  information  about  the  students’  progress  or  lack.  Feedback  can  be addressed  to  three  distinct  groups  concerned  in  the  teaching  and  learning  process: parents, students, and teachers.   

1. Feedback to Parents

Grades especially conveyed through report cards provide a  critical  feedback  to  parents  about  their  children’s  progress  in  school.  Aside  from grades in the report cards  feedbacks can also be obtained from standardized tests, teachers’ comments.  Grades  also  help  parents  to  identify  the  strengths  and  weaknesses  of  their child. Depending  on the  format of  report cards,  parents  may also  receive feedbacks about their  children’s behavior, conduct,  social skills and  other variables  that might be  included  in  the  report  card.  

On a general point of view,  grades  basically  tell parents whether their child was able to perform satisfactorily.  Parents  are  not  fully  aware  about  the  several  and  separate assessments  which  students  have  taken  that  comprised  their  grades.  Some  of  these assessments  can  be  seen  by  parents  but  not  all.  Therefore,  grades  of  students, communicated  formally  to  parents  can  somehow  let parents  have an  assurance that they are seeing the overall summary of their children’s performance in school (Magno, Lynn, Lee, & Ko, 2009).  

2. Feedback to Students

Grades are one way of providing feedbacks to students such  that  it  is  through  grades  that  students  can  recognize  their  strengths  and weaknesses. Upon  knowing these strengths  and weaknesses, students  can be  able to further develop  their competencies  and  improve their  deficiencies. Grades  also help students to keep track of their progress and identify changes in their performance.  

This  feedback  is  directly  proportional  with  the  age  and  year  level  with  the students such  that  grades are  given more  importance  and meaning  by  a  high  school student as compared to  a grade one  student (see Raven,  2010). Motivation plays a role in grades. Such that grade one students (young ones) are motivated to get high grades because of external rewards and high school students (older ones) are also motivated internally to improve one’s competencies and performance. 

3. Feedback to Teachers

Grades serve as relevant information to teachers. It is through grades of  students that they can  somehow

  • Assess whether students  were able  to  acquire  the  competencies  they  are  supposed  to  have  after  instruction;  
  • Assess  whether  their  instruction  plan  and  implementation  was  effective  for  the students;
  • Reflect about  their  teaching  strategies  and  methods; 
  • Reflect  about possible positive and negative factors that might have affected the grades of students before,  during  and  after  instruction; 
  • Evaluate  whether  the  program  was indeed effective or not. 

Given these beneficial purposes of grades to teachers, we can really say that teaching and learning is a two way interrelated process, such that it is not only  the students  who learn  from the  teacher, but  the teacher  also learns  from the  students.  Through  grades  of  students,  a  teacher  can  be  able  to  undergo  self- assessment and  self- reflection in  order to improve  herself and be  able to recognize relative  effectiveness  of  varying  instructional  approaches  across  different  student groups  being  observed  and  be  flexible  and  effective  across  different  situations (Jorgenson & Jorgenson, 1993)

4. Promotion and Retention

Grades  can  serve as one  factor  in determining if  a student  will be  promoted  to the  next  level or  not.  Through the  grades  of students, skills, and  competencies required of  him to have  for a certain  level  can be assumed whether  or  not  he  was  able  to  achieve  the  curriculum  goals  and  objectives  of  the school and/ or the state. In some schools, the grade of students is a factor taken into consideration  for  his/  her  eligibility  in  joining extracurricular  activities  (performing, theater  arts,  varsity,  cheering  squads…  etc.).  

Grades  are  also  used  to  qualify  a student  to  enter  high  school  or  college  in  some  cases.  Other  policies  may  arise depending on the schools’ internal regulations. At times, failing marks may prohibit a student  from  being  a  part  of  the  varsity  team,  running  for  officer,  joining  school organizations,  and  some  privileges  that  students  with  passing  grade  get.  In  some colleges  and  universities,  students  who  get  passing  grades  are  given  priority  in enrolling for the succeeding term, as compared to students who get failing grades.   

Placement  of  Students  and  Awards

Through  grades  of  students,  placement can  be  done.  Grades  are  factors  to  be  considered  in  placing  students  according  to their competencies and deficiencies. Through which, teaching can be more focused in terms  of    developing  the  strengths  and  improving  the  weaknesses  of  students.  

Tailoring Education to Student Competency Levels

For example, students who consistently get high, average and failing grades are placed in one  section  wherein  teachers  can  be  able  to  focus  more  and  emphasize  students’ needs and  demands to  ensure a  more productive  teaching learning process.  Another example  which  is  more  domain  specific  would  be  grouping  students  having  same competency on a certain  subject  together. Through  this strategy, students who  have high  ability  in  Science  can  further  improve  their  knowledge  and  skills  by  receiving more  complex  and  advanced  topics  and  activities  at  a  faster  pace,  and  students having low ability in Science can receive simpler and more specific topics at a slower pace (but making  sure they  are able to acquire the  minimum competencies  required for  that  level  as  prescribed  by  the  state  curriculum).  

Utilizing Grades for Academic Recognition and Awards

Aside from placement of students, grades are frequently use as basis for academic awards. Many or almost all schools, universities  and  colleges  have  honor rolls,  and  dean’s list, to recognize student achievement and performance. Grades also determine graduation awards for the  overall  achievement or excellence a student has garnered throughout his/ her education in a single subject or for the whole program he has taken.

Program Evaluation and Improvement

Through the grades of students taking a  certain  program,  program  effectiveness  can  be  somehow  evaluated.  Grades  of students can  be a  factor used  in determining  whether the  program was  effective or not.  Through  the  evaluation  process,  some  factors  that  might  have  affected  the program’s  effectiveness  can  be  identified  and  minimized  to  improve  the  program further for future implementations 


Motivation can  be  provided through grades; most  students study hard  in  order to  acquire  good  grades;  once  they  get  good  grades,  they  are  motivated  to  study harder to get higher grades. Some students are motivated to get good grades because of their enthusiast to join extra- curricular activities, since some schools do not allow students  to  join  extra-curricular  activities  if  they  have  failing  grades.  

There  are numerous  ways  on  how  grades  serve  as  motivators  for  students  across  different contexts (family, social,  personal…etc.). Thus,  grades may serve  as one of  the many motivators for students.

17 Best Grading Practices for Teachers and School Leaders

1. Align on the Why  With Students

As a teacher, I always encouraged my students to ask why. If they didn’t think the assignment was meaningful, or they didn’t know why they were tasked with it, we talked about it together. When students understand the purpose of the assignment and the learning objective(s) associated with it, they are more likely to put forth their best effort. 

Reflecting on Building Student Trust

In moments when you as the teacher or administrator feel uncertainty about the why, that’s an important opportunity to reflect on best practices. It’s also an opportunity to be transparent with your students, which leads to student trust. When I taught AP, I would often tell students that it was my responsibility to prepare them for the test, which is why we sometimes needed to buckle down and work through multiple-choice questions. 

Balancing Test Preparation with Critical Thinking Skills

I would also explain to them how difficult tests were for me as a student, and how I wish I had more opportunities to practice, but also I could empathize with their apathy for multiple-choice. Sometimes, I would even share how as an educator, I felt split between preparing them for a test and preparing them to be critical thinkers and aware global citizens. This transparency created a culture of trust and respect that inherently influenced the way students showed up and participated.

2. Set Clear Expectations for Students

Regardless of the grade level, spend time level-setting expectations for assignment

  • Make sure directions are clear and concise.
  • Ask a volunteer student to repeat the instructions in their own words.
  • Take the time to ask any questions that need clarification.
  • Revisit instructions if needed, especially if the assignment is complex or has multiple components.
  • Share directions in a variety of ways for different learning styles.

3. Create a Visual and Digital Homework Board or Unit Calendar

This may differ according to grade level but create a visual and digital homework/assignment board. At the beginning of the week, spend time reviewing the homework board and due dates. Encourage students to take a picture, use their calendars on their phones, or write down their assignments in an agenda. 

If an assignment has multiple parts, model how you might break up an assignment and make smaller due dates for yourself based on your own needs and schedule. Time management and forward-thinking are important life skills that students often need support in developing. There are many apps for grading that can assist in these skills! 

4. Create a Grade-Level Summative Assessment Calendar

Students struggle to perform when they have multiple assignments due simultaneously. Create a grade-level Google calendar, or physical calendar, with summative assessments. If possible, try not to have more than one or two summative assessments due on the same day. Find summative assessment examples here!

5. Write Strong Assignment Titles and Descriptions

Providing enough pivotal information so students can be successful and making sure not to write instructions that are too verbose is a difficult task. Create a method for naming assignments that’s clear and consistent. Share which category each assignment will be entered in, and how it will be weighted if necessary.

6. Provide Exemplars When Possible

Exemplars can be difficult when you also want to encourage originality and creativity. Exemplars and models truly do help students understand expectations.

7. Encourage Student Self-Assessment and Reflection

Provide students with opportunities to assess and grade their work. Provide intentional opportunities for students to internalize feedback and reflect. For example, each student in my high-school English class had their own writing folder. When they received an essay or writing assignment back, they reviewed their grade and feedback. Then they created a writing goal for themselves. 

This goal had to be specific and aligned with the feedback. For example, “better grammar,” or “stronger vocabulary,” are not clear enough. I will focus on sentence fluency by using a variety of sentence structures to improve my writing flow,” would be an acceptable goal. Students would then write this goal on top of their new assignment before submitting it. I would grade each assignment with that student’s specific goal in mind. Here are some extra ways to provide reflection and gratitude in the classroom! 

8. Encourage Consistency

As a school leader, it’s important to encourage consistency when it comes to grading policies. Decide if grading policies are decided on a whole school level, at the grade level, subject level, or individual classroom level.

9. Set Grade Book Expectations and Deadlines

Set grade book expectations and deadlines and remind teachers in advance. Take time to review grade books with teachers and analyze student data. Here is a guideline to create grade books in excel! 

10. Create Expectations for Regular Grade Book Checks

Encourage teachers to review their grade books regularly, and take the time to look over grades with students. Help teachers support students and offer to be present during difficult conversations regarding grades. Identify struggling students early and offer interventions and support.

11. Encourage Collaboration Regarding Best Grading Practices

Encourage collaboration within grade-level teams or subject areas regarding best grading practices. Teachers can take time to share model assignments, or bring upcoming assessments to review and receive feedback on.

12. Share Feedback Regularly with Teachers

Create a regular cadence for sharing feedback regarding grade book checks and grading expectations with teachers. Ask teachers how they could feel more supportive and offer to help create strategies to ease teacher workloads when possible.

13. Establish Standards-Based Rubrics

If everyone uses the same rubric to assess essential standards, learning is reinforced across disciplines and achievement increases.

14. Eliminate Toxic Grading Practices

Get rid of practices that impede achievement – such as the use of the zero, averaging, and others that discourage students and suppress effort.

15. Allow Re-dos and Updating of Assessments

Distinguish between feedback and grading, and allow students to submit their best work for assessment. Also, permit “grade forgiveness” (as practiced in many colleges) where students can re-do assignments and replace a poor grade with an improved one.

16. Don’t Penalize Practice

Rather than grading everything a student does, base grade assessments on final products, not all of the practice steps leading to the product. And be sure that the assessments are linked to common standards.

17. Focus on Demonstration of Learning, Not Task Completion

If a student can demonstrate that she can balance chemistry formulas, how many times must she do it for a passing grade? Too often, “rigor” simply means more work, not more challenging or demanding work.

18. Utilize Technology

Artificial intelligence tools, combined with human expertise, can help teachers save time when they’re reviewing student work.

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17 AI Grading Tools Every Teacher Should Know About

1. EssayGrader

EssayGrader is the most accurate AI grading platform trusted by over 30,000 educators worldwide. It cuts down grading time from 10 minutes to just 30 seconds, offering a 95% reduction. Teachers can replicate their grading rubrics, set up custom rubrics, grade essays by class, bulk upload essays, and use the AI detector to catch essays written by AI. 

EssayGrader is a versatile tool used by teachers from primary school to college for grading essays efficiently and accurately.

2. Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a free platform for schools that integrates online learning. Teachers can assign, collect, and grade assignments within the platform, facilitating easy feedback and communication between teachers and students.

3. Turnitin

Known for its plagiarism checking capabilities, Turnitin also offers a grading system. Teachers can provide feedback and grade assignments, combining these processes in a single platform.

4. Kahoot!

While primarily for interactive quizzes, Kahoot! can also be used for grading. Teachers can view quiz results in real-time, enabling immediate feedback.

5. Quizlet

Quizlet allows teachers to create study sets and quizzes for students. It automatically grades quizzes and provides detailed reports on student performance, aiding teachers in tracking progress.

6. Socrative

Teachers can create quizzes or polls instantly with Socrative and receive immediate grading. The tool also visualizes student and class understanding, helping educators identify areas for improvement.

7. Edmodo

Edmodo is a social learning platform where teachers can post messages, discussions, assignments, and quizzes. It includes an integrated grade book for tracking student progress easily.

8. Gradescope

Gradescope enables the grading of paper-based exams, online homework, and programming projects. It offers AI-assisted grading and provides statistical insights into student performance.

9. Moodle

An open-source learning management system with a comprehensive grading system, Moodle allows teachers to create and manage activities, assignments, and grades using various methods.

10. Formative

Formative offers live feedback, progression tracking, and quick assignment grading. Teachers can view student responses in real-time, guiding instruction and providing immediate feedback.

11. Nearpod

A tool for interactive lessons and assessments, Nearpod enables teachers to create engaging lessons with quizzes, polls, and assignments. Real-time feedback and post-session reports are also available.

12. Showbie

Showbie combines essential features for assignments, feedback, and communication in one platform. Its suite of tools enables differentiated feedback for students of all learning abilities.

13. Seesaw

Seesaw is a digital portfolio tool where students can save and submit work digitally. Teachers can deliver personalized feedback and maintain grades in one organized place.

14. Flubaroo

A Google Sheets add-on, Flubaroo grades multiple-choice or fill-in-blank assignments in under a minute. It computes average assignment scores, average scores per question, flags low-scoring questions, and displays grading distribution.

15. ZipGrade

ZipGrade allows teachers to grade paper quizzes with their phones. By printing answer sheets and scanning them, the app quickly grades quizzes.

16. ThinkWave

ThinkWave is a comprehensive gradebook tool supporting weighted grades and custom grading scales. It enables teachers to comment on assignments individually and generate reports.

17. Crowdmark

Crowdmark accelerates grading of exams and assignments, offering a collaborative online grading tool and analytics platform. Teachers can provide better feedback, track student progress, and predict future performance.

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Save Time While Grading Schoolwork — Join 30,000+ Educators Worldwide & Use EssayGrader AI, The Original AI Essay Grader

The EssayGrader AI Grading Platform has been developed to assist educators in improving their grading practices for essays. This innovative tool has been designed to reduce the time spent grading essays, making the process more efficient and effective.

Time Efficiency in Essay Grading with EssayGrader

By using the EssayGrader platform, educators can save up to 95% of the time they would typically spend grading an essay manually. This time-saving benefit is made possible by the accuracy and efficiency of the AI grading system, which can grade an essay in just 30 seconds. With EssayGrader, teachers can achieve the same results as manual grading, but in a fraction of the time.

​​Customizable Grading Rubrics for Precision and Consistency

To ensure that the AI grading system accurately reflects the teacher's grading rubric, educators can replicate their grading rubrics in the platform. This customization feature allows teachers to set the grading criteria so that the AI system can grade essays with precision. Educators can set up fully custom rubrics to meet specific grading requirements for different assignments or classes.

Enhanced Grading Management with Class-Specific Features

The EssayGrader platform offers several features that enhance the grading process, including the ability to grade essays by class. This feature allows educators to organize and manage essays for different classes efficiently. Teachers can also benefit from the bulk upload option, which streamlines the process of grading multiple essays simultaneously.

Maintaining Academic Integrity with AI Detection and Summarization Tools

Another valuable feature of the EssayGrader platform is the AI detector, which can identify essays written by AI. This capability helps educators maintain academic integrity by preventing students from submitting essays generated by AI tools. Educators can use the essay summarizer tool to obtain a concise summary of essays, enabling them to grasp the key points quickly.

Global Adoption of EssayGrader for Improved Academic Feedback

The EssayGrader AI Grading Platform has been embraced by over 30,000 educators worldwide, who have graded over half a million essays using this innovative tool. With its time-saving benefits, accuracy, and customization options, EssayGrader is transforming grading practices for essays in primary schools, high schools, and colleges globally. Educators can leverage this tool to provide high-quality, specific, and accurate writing feedback to students in seconds, making the grading process more efficient and impactful.

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