According to a report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, teachers spend roughly 95 minutes at home grading homework and planning lessons and work close to 11 hours per day. The lengthy workdays leave teachers feeling stressed and overextended. Below are some helpful tips for grading efficiently to help Missouri teachers save time on grading and use it for guiding students or simply getting the rest they need to be effective teachers!

Prepare Ahead to Make Grading Easier
A little extra legwork saves time on grading. Before handing out an assignment, teachers should spend time in class going over their expectations for the work by:

  • Handing out examples of good work
  • Explaining what lessons the assignment will reinforce and why it is valuable
  • Embedding their expectations in the assignment instructions – when students understand the grading expectations, teachers do not need to spend as much time evaluating grades or justifying marking decisions
  • Reminding students where, when and how they want the assignment handed in
  • Answering any questions students have – if teachers make sure their class understands what they want, they can increase student confidence and can decrease the amount of late assignments received

Along with preparing students for success, there are best practices teachers can adopt to make grading easier:

  • Making up an answer key in advance
  • Alphabetizing the assignments once they’re collected and making note of any late/missing assignments to follow up
  • Keeping a file of boilerplate comments for essay feedback, which can be pasted into student assignments if relevant (e.g. “Avoid passive voice”)
  • Maintaining a calendar that shows when assignments will be handed out, how long students have to complete the work and when teachers plan to grade assignments, so teachers can better manage their time and amounts of paperwork

Efficient Grading Tips
In addition to preparing in advance to grade student work, teachers can get actual grading done quickly by experimenting with the following techniques:

  • Scheduling grading time when they will not be disturbed or distracted and can concentrate
  • Approaching grading in a positive mood and with high energy
  • Setting goals with respect to grading, such as trying to reduce the time spent on grading spelling tests by 5 minutes per week until it takes the desired amount of time to correct student work
  • Avoiding the temptation to multitask or take breaks, as many teachers find that it takes much longer to get back into the groove after a small break
  • Grading one problem or answer at a time for all students and then moving on to the next, rather than grading one student’s quiz at a time
  • Taking notes of grading criteria as they grade and recording common trouble spots (which may require a reassessment of the rubric)
  • Paying attention to providing the appropriate level of feedback and knowing when to refer students elsewhere – for example, students who continually make spelling mistakes may need to visit the school’s writing center or receive tutoring
  • Separating graded assignments into piles by letter grade, then checking for consistency in marking before recording the final grade
  • Saving common feedback for a classroom discussion rather than spending time writing the same comments on every student’s paper or exam

These practices are flexible enough that teachers grades K-12 can adapt the technique to their classroom and make tweaks to find what works best for them. By finding ways to make the process of developing, going over and grading assignments more efficient, teachers can reinforce learned material better while spending less time on lesson grading.