The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
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Grading Presidential Success

Ninth grade students in Topics in Modern American History are analyzing the success of WWII presidents using letter grades and rubrics.
What do ninth grade students in Topics in Modern American History (TMA), and Fay School faculty have in common? Grading and rubrics!
In TMA, ninth graders explore the cultural, socio-economic, political, and foreign policy development of the United States from the end of World War II through the end of the Cold War. Students focus on the events and individuals that shaped the actions, attitudes, expectations, and ideologies of modern America.

Students in TMA were recently asked to give a grade to President Franklin D. Roosevelt or President Truman based on how successful the presidents were in achieving America’s goals during the Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam Conferences and negotiation sessions. Students created rubrics, similar to those used and developed by many teachers at Fay School, and graded the Presidents with feedback and a letter grade. Students were required to write a justification for the given grade. Finally, students were reminded to take into account the following when assessing their performance:

  • What was going on in the war at that time of the conference?
  • Were we winning, losing, desperate, or dominant?  
  • Was the war almost over or just getting started?  
  • Were we needing an ally or getting a new weapon?

In one student’s words, Although FDR gets an ‘A’ for getting the Soviets to agree to invade Japan, he did not pose any opposition to Stalin's plans to take much of Eastern Europe at the end of the war.  He failed to contain communism by setting defined boundaries, and for that I gave President Roosevelt an overall grade of ‘C’. This is just one example of creative assessments used in our classrooms that require students to analyze and think critically.
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