Making the Grade

By the end of the year, entering grades is an exhausting and daunting process, considering I’ve done it so many times before in the school year. Nevertheless, it must be done.  My goal is to have grades entered 2 weeks before they are even due this year. (Assuming the projects are done enough to collect accurate data).  This way, my efforts at the end of the year can focus more on the physical environment of the room, instead of sitting at a computer and entering grades.

I also enter my grades at home. Although I try really hard to have work-life- balance (and with baby coming, I will need to establish this even more) but grades are something I can do at home, so when I am at school, I can put things away, organize my room and order supplies. Working smarter!

Take it in baby steps. The second you have something graded, keep a spreadsheet/ tally sheet so you know what you have done and what you have left to do. This helps me to prioritize what is left on my list. Once an entire grade level is graded and done, I can enter it and check it off the list. Sometimes I sit down and enter all of my grades at once, (one and done), but taking it in baby steps and doing it early really helps with that end of the year rush this time of year.

I know it sounds simple, but sometimes making an effort to get ahead of the game makes all the difference.  

Any tricks out there for getting ahead on grades or anything else when you feel behind?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Amanda

    Sometimes I do grades for the classes I have that day. So after Day 1 – I do those grades. When Day 2 is over I do those grades. I repeat and then after 4 days my grades are complete! This is also helpful to have each student fresh in your mind as you do grades – although you also have to be cautious and make sure that whatever happened that day doesn’t effect their grade for the whole grading term. I find that with over 500 kids the ease of this far outweighs the caution.

    • Jessica Balsley

      That is my ultimate goal- To work daily on grades! It’s the one area I just can’t seem to get organized in. Imagine that. Thanks for the suggestion- Using afterschool time when you are exhausted is hard but always worth it.

  • Erica

    Grades AHHH the worst part of the job. I sometimes jot a grade down in the attendance book as they line up with their project. Ideally I’d have a rubric for each project but it simply doesn’t happen teaching over 500 kids in a transient population. I also have journals that help me when I’m not sure what to grade a student for “responds to art work” one of our standards. That helps. Also we grade on a 1-4 scale with 5 criteria for each student (this year it has changed four times in the past five years.) So we can do a “quick fill” of a grade basically give every kid the same grade THEN go back in and adjust the grades. This feature saves me from typing in every single grade because that would be over 2,500!

  • MadisonArtTeacher

    I do grades a little at a time. Four classes here, four classes there. I like to bring my Mac to a local coffee shop and find the coziest chair to curl up in. I figure this is a double duty activity. I get my grades done AND make it possible to actually talk with boys my age! *I’m single and being around women and children everyday is not helping this.

  • Heather

    I am a 2nd year teacher at a small Christian School. I have K-8th grade, teaching 16 art classes. I have 1 rubric for all projects. A simple one for 2-5th and a more detained one for 6-8th grade. I can’t ever seem to find the time to grade their projects. What are some other ideas for grading? Without having a rubric, I would be afraid students would ask why they got the grade I gave them. What do all of you do that have 500 students or more?

    • Vivian

      I like that you have a separate rubric for the various grades levels. I change it up according to the project I am doing with the upper grades (5-8th) but it would certainly be easier to use the same one consistently. What do you use in your rubric consistently?

  • Vivian

    I have a pile of work labeled “to grade” where students turn in their works on the last day of a project. I get to it either at the end of the work day, during a prep, or in the morning. I’ve been more consistently on top of my grading. I tend to take home the more compact work and grade larger work in school. I sometimes grade in front of the tube and enter grades into computer then as well. I break things down into days and 50points per day. So if a project takes 5 class periods to mostly complete it’s worth 250 points. We are asked to have a grade each time we meet with our classes, though it’s not strict. But this method helps me be accountable. I include a participation/responsibility grade (as behavior is not supposed to be graded) but this allows me to place a grade on their team effort with clean-up, their help amongst their peers, as well as their participation in class.