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Evaluating Choral Classes (Choralist compilation)

Date: Thu, 7 Mar 1996 17:44:01 -0600 (CST)
From: Ginger A Wheat
Subject: Grading Students-RESULTS!

Thank you all so much for the information on grading/evaluating students!
The following is a list of the responces that I have recieved on this
I hope that these ideas are as helpful to you as they were to me!
Ginger Wheat

1)Why, they are graded on their progress, of course! I am a great believer
in assessing the individual progress of each of my students-where did they
start and based on the effort they have put in, where did they end. Of
course, this has to be measured against expectancy for the entire grade
level, some measure of standardization, but the student who starts and
nothing and gets half way there has achieved more than the student
who started near the finish line and still didn't cross it.
Abstract perhaps, but that is my philosphical bent coming out.

2)I used a six weeks exam composed of simple sightreading examples.
Also, what can work quite well is having your students sing a portion of
the literature you're working on in octets.
If either of these ideas pique your interest, e me and I'll share some

3)You might try what I did in the public school and have done in a couple
of colleges. Have a percentage of the grade based on quartet checks
over the music the week after each concert. I one school I had the
students come in double quartets to take some of the pressure off the first
time they did it. The next semester I had quartet checks for the select
choir and double quartets for the training choir of underclassmen. I have
also told them of songs to be prepared for just to take some of the
pressure off.
In one high school I had theory assignments in the computer lab. Since
there was such a great background of students, each was in a different
place in the program. They were graded on time spent and number of
progams worked on rather than their overall level of achievement.
Since I now teach secondary choral methods, I would be interested in
any composite info you might post to the list. Good luck.

4)I have started using a new system this year with my college choir. It
may be adaptable for use in a high school. It was developed by Dr.
Peggy Detwiler and was in an article entitled "Grading the Choral
Ensemble: No More Excuses" in the Choral Journal. I'm sorry, but I cannot
locate that particular issue, but it was in the February, March, or April

5)I taught school for five years and then went back for my master's
degree in voice. I taught K-12 vocal music and a few years taught
beginning band. MY policies for grading included the following:
Based on points - 1 point for each, more important events doubled
the point value.
Attendance at rehearsals (excused 1 point, unexcused 0 point)
Attendance at lessons (if given)
Attendance at programs (this was heavily weighted with me)
Extra points for contests, festivals, honor choirs and 1 extra
point for rehearsals for these events. If working on all-state music (
which is a big thing in Iowa) they could receive up to 5 points extra and
then if chosen would recieve an extra 10 points.
Accompanists earned 25 points for being the accompanist then
moreif they accompanied for contest. (I guess you can tell I needed
accompanists and waswilling to pay for them with points.
The students could make up lessons or extra points if they were
falling behind during the year by helping with the choral library,
designing bulletin boards and putting them up and anything else I
needed help with during the year. There always seemed to be stuff to do.
The Grade was based on points earned to points available to earn in a
percentage whiche then followed the school grading ratio. (I believe ours
was like grade of A with 98%, grade of A- with 93%-97%, etc.) If the
students earned 80% it allowed them to receive a letter in music to put
on their jackets or wherever they wanted to put them.
Remember, However, I live in Northwest Iowa - quite rural but
this system seemed to work. The idea of lettering was important to the
students for putting on resumes and applications for college.
If we had fundraisers they could earn extra points for participating.

6)20% rehearsal attendance/participation
20% performance/dress rehearsal attendance/participation
20% attitude & effort/rehearsal technic
20% musical understanding {theory/history/rhythmic development,
portfolio writings --assignments}
20% technical skill development {vocal skills, sectional participation, Sight
Note: only 30% of this is "subjective", also in effect a student with a below
average voice development can still get a good grade, and a student
with a great voice, but poor participation will get a poor grade.

7)My own very short version gives you many assessment options.
1. achievment (paper-and-pencil) tests and projects.
2. performance tests: sightreading, drill exercises, on-the-music tests
3. port-folios (collections of music experiences in and out of the
4. values in choral music: being on time, having materials, willing to
share ability with others, following instructions ect....what values do
you want your students to achieve?
Remember that we test for what we value. Decide what you want your
students to know and create small ways to assess if your students are
reaching those objectives.

8)I designate a portion of the students' grade on participation, and a
portion on written work and tests. The ratio varies from marking cycle to
marking cycle, depending on whether the marking cylce encompasses
concerts or midter/final exam. It could be 50% participation, 50% written
work and tests, or 40% written work, 60% participation, etc.
The participation component includes concerts and other
performances. In our school, the music department policy is that the
winter and spring concerts are mandatory and if the student doesn't
participate in them, they autmatically fail for the marking cycle. This year
I couldn't go by that policiy because of the snow closings, etc. so I
adjusted it.
I judges students who exhibit leadership during the rehearsals as "A"
in particiaption. They are enthusiastic, they care if their section is
singing wrong, they really want to do well. Other students who just like to
sing, rarely raises their hand, are passive about note learning, etc,
that is
a "b" student and so forth.
I try to give some sort of individual solfege exam, or note checking
so that the shy student who is really on the ball, knows her/his notes but
may not get my attention, willbe recognized

9)For my HS vocal classes (translate: choral) I use a combination of
attendnce, skill tests in voice part, ear training, basic theory
exercises,rhythmic/solfeg quick tests, special projects in solo/ensemble
depending on skill and courage levels!Listenting/music history exercises,
final exam. Unfortunately, our vocal classes are not the performing
ensembles so the emphasishas to be on an overview of music rather than
performance skills or repertoire.

10)I have five to six proficiencies each quarter for my choir students.
One i
always sight reading. I teach it religiously every day and each student is
tested each quarter. One is a voice test where they sing their part in
repertoire they are working on. One is a concert that happens that
The others are individual units I present dealing with ear training, theory
and vocabulary. In fact, I have written my own Basics of Music manual,
complete with worksheets, tests, test keys, and teacher pages. There are
16 different chapters dealing with the above. I sell it for $75 and give you
the permission to duplicate all the student pages. It comes in a 3 ring
notebook format so the pages are easily removed for copying. Many
Minnesotan's are using it in their classrooms. If you would be
interested, I
can send you more information.
The grading, however, is critical as we have done a poor job in the past.
That is why I have proficiencies each quarter and students earn grades in
each proficiency. It makes a difference when I have to defend why little
Billy got a "C" in choir.

11)I grade my high school choir students on several items. First of all,
I tell
them that I expect them to learn their parts outside of class/rehearsal. I
give the non-music-readers (most) practice tapes to work with, but I found
that all of the kids appreciate them. Actually, they don't appreciate the
tapes (with my singing) exactly, but they really like the way that listening
to them helps them learn their parts, and develop into a *much* better
So, I require them to listen 8X a week for a C (80% in my school), 10X
for a
B (90), 12X for an A (100) and give extra credit for times exceeding that.
They have to fill out a sheet recording their listening and practicing. How
do I keep them honest? Well, I evaluate their knowledge of the parts
so often by picking 4-8 people (1 or 2 to a part, satb), and have them sing
a song that was on the tape but that we have not worked on in rehearsal
yet. I can tell how well they know it by watching them and listening, and
I tell them, brutally and frankly, right then and there. They can always
appeal my negative assessments by endeavoring to prove me wrong. So
then I base much of their grade on that assessment of how well they
know the parts.
I also include a participation component based on their enthusiasm,
concentration, etc., and most of them do fine on that because I require it
from all of them. I also give them an objective grade on another tape
they are required to work on out of class, their r"Reading and Tone
Production Tape", which I made up for them as well. They have to keep a
daily record of their practice with this too, with the grade based on
number of times etc.
The *bottom line* for their grades is how well they know their parts when I
test them by having them sing them. If they don't know it *really well*, but
they say they've been listening to the tape 12 times a week, I challenge
them, saying I don't believe them (this happens but very rarely), and base
their non-passing grade on that assessment.
I firmly believe that in grading (I teach other classes as well), a teacher
*must* reward the students who work really hard with a really good
grade, and students who do the minimum with mediocre grades, and
students who are unsatisfactory with Ds and Fs. Otherwise, there is no
motivation for any student to work really hard if someone else can get a
good grade by doing very little. So I never give great grades to the