The structure of ungrading can be frustratingly fluid.
For one teacher in higher education, the methodology might be “labor based,” meaning students who do the work automatically pass or, if the school operates on a letter-grade system, earn an A.
Alternatively, ungrading might mean removing the so-called “soft skills” of a class from the grading process, such as time management or participation. If a student turns in a paper late, for example, he wouldn’t lose points.
Or, it might mean eliminating the zero from the grading altogether. Roggeman, for example, stopped giving zeros toward the end of her teaching career because it “tanks the grade,” and it doesn’t accurately reflect a student’s aptitude for a subject. (If a student failed to turn in an assignment, Roggeman would instead dole out a 50%.)
Still others might take an approach similar to that of Ghormley’s son’s college accounting teacher, who let students repeat quizzes and homework until they got the grade they wanted. Tests remained graded as usual, but by allowing students to retake quizzes and update homework, the teacher sought to emphasize the learning part of the class.
“It’s more about the concept of learning accounting, and I think we’ve really lost that concept with grades,” Ghormley says.