Very often teachers use the terms grading and assessment interchangeable. However, they are very different.
When we grade, we give a “final” score to something such as a B and an 83. Usually when students receive a grade, they know that learning that material is over; they do not have to think about improving on materials in the unit. Also, they often receive one grade on their work during the unit. Likewise, students will likely receive a holistic grade, one grade for all the various parts of the whole work. Grades stop the learning.
On the other hand, in assessment, particularly formative assessment, students do not receive a grade on their work; they do receive a few critical suggestions for improvement. Students know that they will use this formative feedback to improve. In addition, they know that they will receive many assessments on this topic. Furthermore, if teachers use a rubric, the teacher uses an analytic rubric where the students receive indicators for many major components for their strengths and specific comments on how to bridge the learning gap. Formative assessment moves the student forward in the learning.
Can a student receive just assessment up to the final grade? Yes. I teach courses in which the students are assessed every class. They do not receive a grade each class. Do they know how they doing in their learning-both their strengths and their learning gaps. Yes! Do they constantly improve throughout the course? Yes.
Try assessing instead of grading to see how much more beneficial it is to the students and to you!
My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.
My book. Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment will be available from Eye-on-Education in the Fall.