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ESL forum > Ask for help > Help me with my project! (a question)    

Help me with my project! (a question)

Amna 107
United Arab Emirates

Help me with my project! (a question)
Hi teachers & friends
I am doing a project and I need to hear your opinions about something.
I am not a teacher yet, so I would like to hear from you and learn from your experience.
Here is my question:
Let’s say that we have Student A and Student B and both of them are writing an essay as a final assignment in the course.
Student A who started with very little skills in writing has shown a significant improvement in his writing at the end of the year.
Student B, on the other hand, started with very high skills in writing, but did not improve as much as Student A did. However, when comparing between their writings, Student B is still much better than Student A.
In this case, how will you score the essays?
Will both students get similar grades?
Will Student A get a better grade?
Will Student B get a better grade?
Waiting for your suggestions based on your experience and opinions ^_^
Best regards

3 Jan 2009      

manonski (f)

I´d grade according to what was expected. (observable criteria).
Did the students have specific grammar points to integrate in the text? Did they have a number of sentences to write?
If your better student did more than the requested task, do you have the possibility to mark "goes beyond the task". Can you give bonus points for that?

3 Jan 2009     


I think that you have to set the assessing criteria in your project and according to that consider the grade each student should get. For instance, if you write in your project that students will be graded according to the progress shown in ther productions throughout the course, Student A may get higher marks. On the other hand, if you  consider the quality of the final production is more important, student B may get the higher mark. If you consider both aspects toghether, both of them should get similar grades. To summarize, it all will depend on the assessing criteria that you´ll include in your written project.

3 Jan 2009     

Anna P


I have always taught Kindergarten kids so I don´t have any expertise with grading - but I can share with you a personal experience.  I was 9 years old when I changed to a new school where most of the students were fluent in English.  My skills were VERY limited and I struggled to keep my head above the water. My grades were very low and the teacher even made fun of me. But everything changed on the following year. The new teacher was very helpful and encouraging which gave me new motivation to try my best.  On the day of the first test (and I still remember that it was about the Boston tea party) the whole class did not get a good grade but my test, which was worse than all the others, got the best score! The teacher explained to the class why she had given me a good evaluation – based on my interest and my effort.  And, from that day on, I believed that I could learn English… and I did!

3 Jan 2009     

New Zealand

I would suggest that you have ´marking criteria´ that you share with the students before they start writing.  What were you teaching that required them to write? The only time you should set assessment tasks is when there is a reason for it.  There is no point in saying to students - write an essay - if they don´t know what you are marking for.

In the situation above maybe you are giving an overall mark for the year or term not attached to a single assessment.  In this case maybe you could add a comment that says that this student has improved significantly and then give examples.

A suggestion would be to have portfolios instead of grades.  This way students can show their parents their progress during the year.  I personally believe in giving feedback rather than grades.  I think grades are pointless - which slants my opinion a lot.

3 Jan 2009     

Amna 107
United Arab Emirates

Thank you very much for your reply.


Well, I have a criteria but I did not mention anything about progress and improvement on it!  I think I will add that to my criteria, so student A can get a good grade for his effort.



Thanks for sharing your personal experience about this topic. Actually, I was not sure if it is better to grade students based on their different abilities in the class or based on one criteria for all the students. However, I would like to be like your teacher who gave you confidence, and believed on your abilities. I will try to do the same when I teach my students.



Using portfolio is a good way to show progress. I think I will do that. But yet grades are important to assess the students.


Thank you all for your help ^_^

3 Jan 2009