Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Alyson Manion

Second Advisor

Sharese Pearson-Bush


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine how public middle school teachers in Connecticut described their perceptions of the purpose of traditional grading and the influence of school or district grading cultures, guidelines, and policies. The research explored the problem of standards-based grading reform due to teachers’ grading perceptions. The literature reviewed includes the challenges of traditional grading and its effect on students, standards-based grading reform, and the challenges associated with successful standards-based grading reform. Data for this qualitative study was collected through semi-structured interviews with eight participants who had experience as middle school teachers using a traditional alpha-numeric grading system. The findings from this study indicate that (1) teachers believe the primary purpose of grading is to measure and assess student learning, (2) teachers believe that traditional grading is partially ineffective, (3) school and district grading policies remain open-ended and idiosyncratic with limited guidance by leadership, (4) there are pervasive school and district policies dissuasive of failure, and (5) teachers believe school and district policies diminish the value of grading. The results of this study indicate that there is a degree of consensus among teachers about the purpose of grading as a measurement of student learning. Additionally, the results of the study indicate that school and district policies remain open-ended and idiosyncratic, and negatively influence teachers’ perceptions about the purpose of grading.


Ed.D. Dissertation

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