Starting from the beginning of the 2012 school year, the members of the English Department have tried to align and standardize their essay grading system. Upcoming workshops are helping them further their progress, according to English Department Instructional Supervisor Shirley Tokheim.

Although the process started over six months ago, the English Department is not done with their alignment of essay grading and classes. Aligning the essay grading system is a way for teachers to ensure that their classes are graded fairly and equally across the board.

“I often will show some [American Lit Honors] papers to the other teacher, and she will read it, and we will grade it together,” Tokheim said.

After complaints from the student body about unfair grading, Tokheim and the other English teachers have been working on fixing the system and creating fair, standardized classes.

“We give similar assignments, we give similar number of assignments [and] we are similar in the number of essays we grade,” Tokheim said.

However, alignment of grading can take a long time, and there are many different ways do it.

“It’s complicated,” Tokheim said. “We have increased our focus this year, it’ll happen over the summer.”

In an attempt to align their classes, Tokheim and other English teachers are attending workshops about teaching, such as developing techniques to help students analyze literature.

“We have another professional development day coming up in March, and [we] will do further alignment [there],” Tokheim said. “It’s a big process and takes a lot of conversations and a lot of time, so we are extremely busy, and our primary work is teaching English.”

Along with essay grading, English teachers work together during collaboration time, have monthly department meetings, and Tokheim sends out department emails on a regular basis in order to continue to meet California’s standards for English classes.

California standards for English classes include writing, speaking, listening and reading comprehension standards that the English Department is trying to incorporate more fully into their curriculum.

“You will have a similar experience no matter who your teacher is,” Tokheim said. “It is a big process.”

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