More perspectives on grading and Easy A’s

I visited an Oakland high school today and interviewed two veteran teachers — teachers with reputations as hard graders — about their grading practices for a follow-up story on this issue. I talked with some students, too.

One of the teachers said it is “painful” to give half of the students in a particular class Ds and Fs, as he has done. But, he said, holding the kids to a certain standard (coming to class and completing their assignments, at a minimum) is the best leverage he knows of when it comes to motivating students to work hard and learn the material. Not that it always works…

Both teachers, however, said it’s much more difficult for newer hires — without tenure or an established reputation at a school — to adhere to high standards if that means giving out many Ds and Fs. Those teachers are more vulnerable to pressure from the school administration and parents alike, they said.

After all, an F isn’t a passing grade and Ds aren’t accepted by the state university systems. So if teachers hand out too many of those low marks, it could lower a school’s graduation rate and other stats, such as the number of students who graduate (on paper, anyway) as “college-ready,” by CSU/UC standards.

The students I interviewed said they wished grading were more consistent from classroom to classroom. Several, without naming names, described some of their teachers as “disorganized,” losing essays and assignments (One boy told me he didn’t like it when teachers “guessed” on grades).

While some teachers lay out their expectations and grading systems up front, the students said, others assign grades in more mysterious ways. Being nice and showing up to class is enough for an A in some classes, they said, while it doesn’t guarantee even a C in others. These grading reputations — while not always accurate — are widely known, and students sometimes seek out or avoid teachers accordingly, they said.

One of the students, 18, came to the U.S. from Mexico three years ago. Her dad recently lost his job, she said, and her family relies heavily on her and her older brother’s jobs for survival. She works 40 hours a week at a local bakery and gets off at midnight. She seemed to care deeply about her grades, but said that while she manages to complete most of her assignments, she doesn’t study very much for tests.

Teachers: What’s your grading philosophy? Has it changed over the years, or from school to school? Has an administrator ever nudged you to bump up your grades? Do you consider a student’s circumstances outside of the classroom when you grade them? Would you consider cutting a student (like the young woman I just described) slack if she were putting forth effort but not scoring well on tests?

If you want to share your thoughts and stories for the Tribune story, please e-mail me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Pepe

    It’s been my (limited)experience that newer teachers feel more pressure when they assign more Ds and Fs because it is often a sign they are not adequately supporting student learning and teaching successfully. That doesn’t mean they don’t belong in teaching, it just means they need more experience.

    I have no respect for teachers who give students grades based on feelings, such as, “I feel sorry for her,” or “I feel she worked really hard.” I think this is a sign of the culture of low expectations that gives public schools a bad reputation. My kids have had easy and hard graders, and it is usually pretty obvious to me when they are forced to rise to the challenge of a good teacher.

  • peter

    Ahhhh grading— it’s what everyone remembers about schools & thinks is important, but no one agrees what it means.
    Before any debate, we should make something clear: california education code (and everyone else) has put in place standards based education (Obama is now reinforcing that). This means that as a 1st grader, you are required to be taught and meet x,y,z standards. This is a simple yes or no question: did the child meet the standard? In standards–based teaching, frequently people evaluate work on a 4 point rubric to give more accurate feedback to students and families, ie a 1 indicates a lack of progress to the standard, a 2 indicates approaching the standard, a 3 indicates that the standard has been met, and a 4 indicates that the standard has been far surpassed. All this is fairly straight forward and logical BUT… traditionally we have always seen education and evaluation as a “bell curve” model, and the majority of students are “average” and hence should receive Cs. That is 100% contrary to ed code, but the A-F scale has remained for the sake of tradition, and for ease of sorting students.
    So where does that leave teachers? They are stuck trying to translate a standards–based curriculum into a competition/bell curve based evaluation model… and in Oakland, the right to grade by whatever method the teacher chooses is guaranteed by the contract. A perfect storm creating a sheet full of more or less meaningless data every six weeks. This is only compounded by loud teachers who point to their high failure rates as proof of their “high standards” (we all teach the same standards, hence the name “standard!”)
    Personally, I work it out this way: meeting the standard is a “B,” exceeding it is an A, approaching is a C, and not trying is an F. Parents hate it because nearly everyone starts of with Fs and Cs—hey, you can’t have mastered a year’s worth of standards in six weeks! I also give students three opportunities to reach the standard: in class, at home, and on a test. My first year teaching I went CRAZY with one kid because no matter what he didn’t do his homework. So I went home with him, and I learned why: 17 people living in one room, sleeping on two mattresses—they didn’t have a desk and pretty much everything that went home was destroyed by some of the 14 school age kids in the home. After that, I made sure that there was more than one way to show mastery of a standard.
    Now grading for me is easy, I start the year by explaining that everyone will earn a B or better, because they will meet that standards taught. They get excited until I mention that they will all get Bs or better because they will all do all the work, even if it means me waking them up a six o’clock on a saturday to do it!
    Currently at our school we are doing mid-year data reports based on info we got form the mid-year benchmark exams. One of the questions is about how the grading data and the testing data align… it is quite informative and interesting how often grades do not reflect learning.

  • Miguel

    @Pepe: I can understand the enthusiasm you have for high expectations, but a draconian approach to teaching and grading hardly sounds like the right terms on which to ground a student-teacher relationship. Teaching is not the robotic profession of a heartless soul. It is a human vocation that requires careful judgement and an endless re-evaluation of the constraints under which people live. Sometimes (not regularly) that means making exceptions for our kids. It requires finding a balance between high expectations and circumstantial bequests. And I don’t see how this approach could merit anyone’s disrespect.

  • union Supporter-But

    It seems that for upper elementary, middle and high school grading would be relatively straight forward if you started the first week with a rubric. Every student would then know the required “points” needed for a particular grade. I don’t believe that showing up on time and ready for class should be more than 10% of the overall grade. Homework turned in could be 10% and participation in class could be 5%. But if you don’t know the material it seems you are harming both the student and the teacher in the next level class when you assign any grade that was not earned.

    Where is the solidarity in preparing students for your coworkers, if not for the students themselves?

  • CarolineSF

    Don’t forget to address the Envision charter schools’ bogus policy of giving no grades lower than C, which magically means all their kids qualify for CSU/UC requirements.

  • Gordon Danning

    Peter: I’m not sure that you can blame (credit?) the contract with giving teachers to grade as they see fit, given that Ed Code sec 49066(a) states: “When grades are given for any course of instruction taught in a school district, the grade given to each pupil shall be
    the grade determined by the teacher of the course and the determination of the pupil’s grade by the teacher, in the absence of clerical or mechanical mistake, fraud, bad faith, or incompetency, shall be final.”


    I don’t see how a teacher is doing a student any favors by “making exceptions” for him or her, if that means giving him or her a grade that he or she does not deserve. Years ago, I had a student who missed huge amounts of class because she had a heart condition, and so she was often at doctors’ offices. I gave her an F, because I had no evidence that she had learned any Economics. As a result, she did not graduate on time. But, you know, I’m sure she either made up the credits in the summer or went to community college, which of course does not require a HS diploma. I could have passed her, of course, but how would that have served her interests, in the long run?

  • Jim Mordecai

    If you look at the School Board policy on grading and promotion you will discover that there is Board policy for graduating from high school and a policy on retention and promotion for kindergarten. But, a few years ago, under the State Administration’s revision of the District’s grading policy, the Board policy for promotion based on Ed Code requirement for a School Board to have a standards-based grade by grade promotion policy was misplaced.

    A number of years have passed and there continues to be no Board standards-based policy on retention and promotion for the elementary and middle school grades. However, there District does have a standards-based report card. Also, retention is usually decided by the Principal but Ed Code requires default be automatic retention if standards are not met in reading and mathematics. Failure to achieve standards can be bypassed if the classroom teacher in writing states that the student will be able to handle the work at the next grade level. However, I don’t believe the Ed Code is followed in most Oakland classrooms.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Frustrated

    This year my child has a teacher who has never handed back a single assignment. Not one. When asked about it the teacher replied that they assignments are “trashed” because there is too much to grade, but that the teacher knows how they are doing. I have no idea how my child is doing and neither does my child.

    When report cards came out the grade for language arts was a 4. When asked, the teacher showed me a test on which my child missed seven items (I don’t remember the total). That was the basis for the entire grade.

    I’m frustrated that this is allowed to happen.

  • anonymous

    I think this is a complicated issue. On one hand of course you want high and rigorous standards for all students (that’s our job as teachers). On the other hand, for many students in classes of “hard-grading” teachers, the curriculum is not accessible. The questions that I think to myself: are these teachers making modifications for special education students? Are they differentiating for English Language Learners? Academic English learners? Is the grade based on mastery? How is progress/”grades” communicated to students/parents in a timely manner? Do students have an opportunity to redeem themselves? or do they get an F after 2 bad grades at the beginning of the marking period?

    Also, grading has so many biases that are built in. How does the teacher deal with these biases in their grading system? For example, if the grade is based largely on homework, what happens to student who are homeless or may not have a safe/quiet/adequate space to do homework? although that same student may have mastered the coursework. or if the tests are always in the same format, what if the student can show mastery in a different way?

  • Miss P.

    I have a first grader that was bringing home excellent report cards and receiving accolades from her teacher regarding her progress every time I checked in. Then, whenever we tried reading at home, my daughter was barely able to get through some of the kindergarten (should be preschool) “decodable” reading books. I had a serious problem with this. In counting she was happy and eager to show me how she could count to 100, yet recognizing or writing past 20 was a challenge. I had a serious problem with this. She is adept at writing her first name, yet would struggle with her last name, and became confused when I asked about her middle name. I have a problem with this.

    When I approached her teacher, I was assured that there was no problem in class and that she was doing great.

    Now I see that “great” by some teachers’ definition could simply mean that she is in school everyday, is kind and respectful to her teachers and classmates… smiles a lot. I don’t know! But I do know it seems to have very little to do with actual intellectual ability.

    I am confused why the school day has been extended, yet there seems to be little to no educational benefit to our children. Is it that “home” and “community” have become perceived as such dangerous places that these schools feel like they are doing us all a favor by “holding on” to our children? There is no fun to be had in home life, so all of the “fun” is being served up in school?

    As a parent and an educator myself, I just want to say to all of you “kind” teachers out there: when it comes to educating and grading my children… please spare me your favors. If you have no desire to be exceptional at what you do, then simply doing your job will suffice.

  • Oakland Educator

    I don’t think the heart condition story is a good example of maintaining high grading standards. A student with a heart condition has an automatic right to, at a minimum, a 504 plan under the Rehabilitation Act, if not a full-fledged IEP with an Other Health Impaired eligibility. If the student is missing class due to a legitimate health condition like this, accommodations need to be made to help her learn and demonstrate her knowledge of the material. Students have this right, and parents or students can contest grades or disciplinary decisions even if they didn’t have the plan–or even an official diagnosis! (I think this is a slippery slope)–at the time of the disputed grade/disciplinary decision. There have been precedents, for instance, with students who vandalized the school, got expelled, later got an ADHD hyperactivity/impulsivity diagnosis, and successfully appealed the DHP.

  • Miguel

    @Gordon, @Oakland Educator:
    Agree entirely with Gordon. Perhaps I should have been more a little more clear. I think teachers have the discretion to make exceptions (i.e. waiving a ‘late’ paper, granting an extra day to study for a test, etc) for students to help them EARN their grade. Of course, as we all know, liberal use of such discretion de-legitimizes the teacher in the students’ eyes, and makes the educator more prone to being taken advantage of. I am certainly not in favor of generous grading. Students should be evaluated on the same standards, standards that are set by the teacher’s expectations of what they feel their students can do. I agree with Oakland Educator that a medical case is not the best example, but I more or less see Gordon’s point. The district cannot expect us to forcibly pass all of our students, no matter how much it may want to improve its school profile. We most certainly will be doing our students a disservice (as the young man in the video points out) if we follow that path. Teachers are the Bishops, Rooks, and Knights in the equation: our moves probably have the greatest influence in the educational system, so we must use our power with care. Not allowing it to be co-opted by administrators who ask us to improve score numbers, and not let it get the better of us when we are cognisant of students’ problems. We have a responsibility to protect them (as one MS Principal puts it, they are our “Kings and Queens”), but we must not enfeeble them to the point that they can not stand on their own.

  • gordon

    This level of inconsistency is one of the reasons for the slow decline of the ed sys. No standards, too much unionization and no perfomance criteria. Each class is individual and vatiable but the grade is a fixed and definite.No wonder the kids are lost. We have no ability to hold teachers accountable and no way to reward students who decide to do the job. It is this constant battle that creates disillusionment among all parties – why should we expect a stellar teacher to stay and perform when the weak are rewarded and protected the same. A moewpeivate sector approach would be greatly beneficial for the schols, includin chopping the adminatration and cutting the outrageous salaries they have. District school super make over $200k a year

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Since Gordon seems to think that all problems stem from the union, could those of you with contemporary experience in Oakland’s private schools please shed some light on grading practices in those schools? Someone reading must certainly know something about how grades are managed at Bishop O’Dowd and other local private schools. I would be curious to understand how things are done in an environment where parents are paying to gain an advantage on college entry.

    My Bentley friend tells me that many students there miss gobs of days because they travel with their parents, but that the school is highly accommodating and totally non-punitive.

    Many states don’t have unions, and their students aren’t faring any better, and sometimes even worse. Have the grading practices in those states achieved some level of perfection? If you know, please advise.

    By the way, grade inflation is rampant at the most competitive, private colleges and universities. No one paying that kind of money wants the stigma of a bad grade. Professors are regularly counseled on how to handle aggressive, wealthy, and litigious tuition-paying parents.

  • Steven Weinberg

    A major goal of many high end private schools is helping their students get into the colleges that their parents desire. (In fairness, some of those schools also have college placement advisors who help students and partents select the most appropriate college for their student.) Some private schools place almost all their students into some advanced placement courses to boost their GPAs. It is also common for some private schools to have one quarter or more of their students designated with Individual Educational Plans, indicating that they need untimed testing, so they can take untimed SAT tests, a considerable advantage that most inner city students lack.
    My public school sometimes received students from faith-based private schools who were woefully underprepared, even by inner-city Oakland standards, and the biggest grading scandal in Oakland in the last ten years involved a charter school, Uprep.
    Grading problems are in no way unique to public schools.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Miss P., you are a victim of standardized expectations for young children. Expecting all children to read by first grade is a recipe for disaster for all students, including perhaps a majority of boys, whose brains are not yet ready it.

    I learned to read fluently at four, my son is still struggling at 10 — and he is clearly smarter than me in most other academic areas. Why? He is dyslexic.

    You should be expecting your teacher/school to properly assess your child over grades 1-3 to see what barriers may be arising to block progress, but it is nonsensical and destructive to expect all young children to learn the same things at the same pace — it doesn’t fit with what we know about the complexities of the human brain.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Steven: Are perhaps you thinking of the U Prep charter that had the crooked leader Isaac Haqq (University Preparatory Charter Academy)? I don’t recall a scandal w/Baytech.

    The private school parents seem to be doing what the Piedmont parents do (13% identified w/disabilities as opposed to 10% in OUSD) to insure their children are extra-advantaged (according to a Piedmont High teacher friend of mine). Or is it a matter of OUSD not being able to diagnose all the cases they possibly could?

    Either way, a bunch of OUSD’s test results would be higher if it could be arranged for more students to receive time accommodations, as is apparently done elsewhere.

  • Oakland Educator


    I greatly appreciate your attention to testing and grading issues, as well as your recent California English article about the CST being a norm-referenced test masquerading as criterion-referenced test.

    As a special educator, I want to clarify the IEP issue: Students at private schools with IEPs have to get those IEPs from their residence public school. Thus they are subject to the same eligibility criteria per IDEA and the CA Ed Code as public school students.

    True, some students’ parents use lawyers to pressure for more services than underserved students receive, but they still have to meet an eligibility category. If they have untimed testing, it’s probably because an OUSD school psychologist has administered norm-referenced tests and determined they have a slow processing speed associated with a learning disability, or they have attention deficit.

    More than 10% of OUSD students have IEPs (in line with the national rate of ~13%), and those with untimed tests in their accommodations will get to take untimed SATs, just like their private school counterparts. OUSD is accountable to the Child Find mandate, meaning we have a responsibility simultaneously to uphold eligibility cut-offs and to find and deliver services to all students who meet an eligibility category. We frequently deny testing or services to private school students because their academic achievement is at or above average, so it has not been my experience that private schools have illegitimate numbers of students with IEPs.

  • Oakland Educator

    Also, re: Sharon’s comment, the CST and CMA are untimed tests. All students get as much time as they need to finish, so having an IEP with extended time doesn’t give students with learning disabilities an advantage. (A strange notion anyway, considering the LD makes them actually need that extra time to do the same amount of work.)

    I am an OEA member and the first to cry foul when the district is dropping the ball, but again, as a special educator, I don’t think that’s the case here. We have lower scores than Piedmont not because we have fewer IEPs but because of test construction that creates scores highly correlated to socioeconomic status.

    Special ed is a necessary program that serves students who have particular legally defined profiles, not a catch-all for anyone who asks for services. Believe me, it’s heartbreaking to turn away some of the kids who really need help but don’t meet special ed criteria. If those kids had the kind of help they do need, like mentors and after-school programs, we might make some progress on those questionable tests.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Sharon, Thank you for the correction, it was U-Prep and my apologies to BayTech.
    Katie, any way to correct posting 15, I don’t want to liable an innocent school? Thanks
    Oakland Educator, Thank you for your correction, also. I check into this, and the situation, as I now understand it, is that parents can (or at least once could) get private psychologists to run tests and request extended times on tests without an IEP, private schools would honor those requests and SAT would then permit extra time on their tests as well.
    I appreciate how this community makes sure posters always get it right, and I will be more careful in the future.

  • Katy Murphy

    Done. Sorry, I should have noticed and corrected that earlier.

  • On The Fence

    Although the IEPs may be equally available to folks at public and private schools throughout Oakland or Piedmont, I wonder if there is a difference in the way that families view and access these services. I also wonder if there are differences in the distribution of diagnoses between the OUSD IEPs vs. Private school or Piedmont IEPs.

    As an analogy, individual therapy by a psychologist is sometimes more accepted in certain groups of people. The affluent and better educated may find that therapy is an accepted route to working through problems or even almost a luxury product, while less educated/affluent folks may view psychotherapy as a personal slight (ie. they think I’m crazy), a weakness, or a punishment.

    I have no doubt that all parents struggle with the issue of getting their kid tested for an IEP for myriad reasons, but I wonder if more affluent parents feel that the benefits outweigh the costs, while less affluent parents feel that an IEP would be a tool for the school to hold their child down or simply that the cost outweighs the benefit. I mention this as I am a parent who has held more with the latter view and look at the IEP with some skepticism (based on nothing). However, in reading this discussion, I am now starting to think that those Piedmont and private parents who are utilizing the IEPs at 13% vs the OUSD’s 10% are on to something….

  • Miss P.

    @cranky teacher:

    What I am not a victim of is the lowered expectations that most people have regarding the Black children in Oakland.

    I started out homeschooling my children, so I personally know first hand where there strengths are. I see how teachers and admin use subtle psychological tactics to teach these children to basically have inherently low expectations for themselves. I refuse to accept them, and do not allow my children (birth and all I work with) to accept them either.

    My children do not have any learning disabilities limiting their intellectual abilities, and I will not allow the inequities of others to prevent my children from reaching their full potential. Instead of treating my children like mentally retarded rejects of society… I continue to celebrate their strengths and show them a world of possibilities.

    Yes, I dare to expect great things from my children, and express disappointment when I see they are not giving their best. I continue to be proud of the results I receive. Also proud of the beaming smiles I see on their faces when they know they have genuinely done a good job.

  • Oakland Educator

    OUSD special ed enrollment: 5,569 (http://pec.ousd.k12.ca.us/aboutus/stats/age_dis.html)
    OUSD total enrollment: 38,826 (http://publicportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/199410818193832733/site/default.asp)
    Percent of total OUSD population in special ed: 14.3%

    As I said previously, OUSD has MORE than 10% special ed enrollment, commensurate with the national rate of ~13%, actually over.

    This conversation has taken a turn toward speculation without any basis in the facts. True, some middle-class parents have objections to labeling their children, but low-SES and culturally/linguistically diverse students are way overrepresented in special ed across the country, and this holds true in OUSD. Almost half of Native American students in OUSD have IEPs, for instance.

    We should be talking about *over-representation*, such as the inexcusable percentage of African American boys under the mental retardation (MR) eligibility due to culturally biased testing instruments–and the fact that English language learners (ELLs) are continually diagnosed as having Speech and Language Impairment (SLI).

    A small percentage of entitled parents going to private psychologists is not a major problem. Private psychologists still have to have scores indicating a processing disorder and aptitude-achievement discrepancy. A psychological report is based on concrete data, not the psychologist’s speculations out of thin air.

    Again, the CST is a norm-referenced test pretending to be a criterion-referenced test, and this is not affected by having or not having an IEP. Test items are chosen in such a way that there is score distribution rather than a concrete finish line that everyone could cross if taught the proper material. Extended time doesn’t give students access to outside cultural references like “Gothic cathedral”–trips to museums and foreign countries do. This is a SES and racial bias issue, not an abuse of special ed issue.

  • Harold

    excellent post Miss P! it isn’t only the conservatives (nextset, etc.), but also the “bleeding-hearts” who don’t expect the best from our children. They just want to make excuses, while the conservatives just want us to go away.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Harold, thanks for nothing in spinning this into a political debate … when you don’t even know my political perspective.

    Miss P: I’m sorry if I upset you and was presumptous. Danger of commenting in a context-free environment like this one. Let me say that I was reacting to your post which made it sound like if a child was not reading by first grade then there was by definition a problem. That does not square with what I know as a parent and a teacher about early childhood development. If you see teachers lowering your students’ expectations that is clearly a problem. I well aware of the syndrome where a teacher, told to be obsessed with standards, basically stops teaching/expecting from any kid who already exceeds the standard. A friend yanked her daughter out of an OUSD school the day the teacher told her, halfway through the year, that her child didn’t need to read any more books that year because she was already “at grade level.”

    I will add this, though: You could be the best mom in the world and you still can not know all the emerging learning differences a six-year-old has because they have not all been exposed yet at that age.

    People seem think a learning difference is a switch — like on/off. No, it’s all about spectrums of abilities which vary wildly within each child. Your post made me think you’d seen too many “My baby can read” commercials and were demanding a refund that the school hadn’t peformed magic. Again, presumptuous, but based in life in this society.

  • Harold

    @cranky – i wasn’t even considering you in my post. Its the tenor of this blog … bleeding heart liberals and conservatives going back-and-forth. Conservatives, with their charter schools are trying to destroy public education … while, in my view, bleeding heart liberals are the number one culprits in the grade inflation controversy!

  • Nextset

    Harold: The public schools have been destroyed by the Liberals/Collectivists/Marxists, never the Conservatives. The Charters are merely an escape valve for the remaining whites, immigrants and upwardly mobile minorities so they don’t fight back and perhaps retake the schools from the libs.

    I would prefer the Charters to be made redundant by a revitalized public school system that imposed discipline and structure on public school kids to people can learn in the few years before they have to go to work, military and higher education.

    I don’t think that’s going to happen because without mainstream students (whites for example) no one who counts cares how bad the public schools get as long as the kiddies (or their parents) don’t riot often. Pacification is all the ghetto public schools care about and by the time the kids realize they have wasted their childhood it’s way too late and they just blame themselves for being bad students anyway.

    I wish I was wrong about this. The unemployable youth will turn into non-formed households and generations of idle men and their baby mammas. Bad scene.

  • Miss P.

    and I will also add that OUSD could quite possibly be the best school district in the world with some of the brightest and most creative students in the world, if only more of the teachers actually expected more from them, instead of allowing them to exemplify the “get stupid”, “go dumb”, “thugged out”, “hyphy” persona perpetrated in society and the media.

    Just because that is all they show on the tv… and all some may see around them, does not mean it should be allowed to exist in the classroom or the schools. It is clear a vast majority find this behavior entertaining… and gives them something to talk about in the teachers lounge… but there have to be higher standards required in these schools. The students will conform if only the administration would set boundaries and hold to them.

    To each his/her own in this education free for all. All I know is… I got a handle on mines. Do you?

  • http://www.cpa.com len raphael

    when standardized tests are given, do the classroom teachers grade their own students’ exams or are teachers from other classes or even other schools cross assigned?

  • Gordon Danning

    Len Raphael:

    Standardized tests are graded by the state (or possibly by the county), not by teachers at the school site.