Teachers' evaluation styles when distributing grades: Do individual-status variables matter?

Clara Sabbagh, Liat Biberman-Shalev, Nura Resh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As the major socializing agents, teachers have a central role in evaluating students: they test students and grade their performance; they praise or scold them for learning efforts, homework and class behavior. In the present chapter we focus on grading, the major evaluation tool in schools, and investigate the following questions: What are the distribution rules that guide teachers in their actual daily practice when evaluating students' learning performance in the classroom? Do teachers' distribution preferences vary by their individual-status characteristics (e.g., gender, education level, seniority)? Theoretically we lean on the contingency approach to distributive justice which identifies three major, mutually exclusive, distribution rules employed separately or jointly when distributing resources of various types: (a) equality, (b) need, (c) equity (or meritocratic principle). Moreover, we contend that people (including teachers) in their decision on just distribution may consider several rules simultaneously and weigh them in various manners. Specifically, we suggest that teachers may vary in 'style of distribution', that is, use varying combinations of weighted rules when grading their student. We exemplify this approach in an empirical investigation of a national sample of 312 Israeli high school teachers who responded to a question about the relative weight they attribute to five considerations (representing different rules of distribution) when allocating grades to their students. Cluster Analysis that was applied to the data resulted in two main teaching evaluation styles: 'performance (outcome)' style, that stresses students' academic performance and 'effort (input)' style that accord significantly lower weight to academic performance, and give greater weight to student's learning investment. Checking further the effect of personal characteristics on evaluation styles through logistic regression suggested no significant differences of either of the individual variables. We conclude, thus, that teachers' evaluation styles seem to reflect strong societal constituted norms of meritocracy rather than individual preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgress in Education
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781617616143
ISBN (Print)9781617615801
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.


  • Distributive justice
  • Education justice
  • Evaluation
  • Grading
  • Teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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