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The Campanile

Teacher assistants should be able to grade

When Principal Brent Kline told teachers that their teacher assistants could no longer grade student work, students and staff had a mixed reaction. On one hand, Kline erred by not consulting teachers more closely before announcing the change. On the other hand, though,  student privacy rights are now better protected because TAs can no longer see their peers’ grades.

While The Campanile values student privacy and having a fair grading system that supports both teachers and students, TAs should be allowed to grade student work, as long as it is limited to the objective grading of homework. 

Such grading includes homework evaluated for completion or homework with an answer key, which constitute a large portion of graded work in many classes. Allowing TAs to grade these kinds of assignments not only reduces the workload of teachers, but also enables students to receive timely feedback. Keeping the contract for all teacher assistants to sign, promising to grade objectively, would also ensure that the grading system is fair for all students.

Since TAs are most likely not as familiar with course material as teachers are, it is important that only teachers grade the most important assignments such as tests. Teacher feedback is valuable on tests which are a comprehensive evaluation of a student’s understanding for a given unit.

Additionally, restricting tests to being only graded by teachers would keep these assignments, which typically constitute most of a student’s grade, hidden from another student’s eye, protecting student privacy.

The Campanile also thinks Kline should have been more transparent during the process of releasing this policy. Since he said he did not consult teachers before releasing his expectations, they were unable to advocate for maintaining the previous TA policies, and could not provide him with additional input about how such a policy would affect their workload and were prohibited from making much-needed amendments to the policy. 

While The Campanile supports Kline’s efforts to protect student privacy, a lack of teacher input inhibited the policy’s initial efficacy. And allowing TAs to grade homework allows teachers to provide timely feedback to students, while still protecting student privacy and reducing teachers’ workload.

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