Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Karen Buchanan, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Joe Bridgeman

Third Advisor

Gary Sehorn, Ed.D.


This exploratory case study examined the experiences of high school teachers who made sense of and enacted a gradeless system in their classes. The study explored what led the teacher participants to make such a significant shift in their thinking and practice as well as what supports and/or challenges they experienced in the process of implementing a nontraditional grading system. The three participants constituted a unique case as they explored an alternative grading model quite different from the traditional 0-100-point model that tends to be the dominant system in public high schools. The findings revealed that the nontraditional systems they developed were grounded in student growth, proficiency, and demonstration of soft skills. As the participants worked to make sense of this system, their beliefs about grading and their past experiences shaped their implementation. They shared that support from colleagues and administrators was paramount to them enacting this change in their classes. This support helped them overcome the challenges they experienced along the way. Participants revealed an increase in student ownership and equity were outcomes that made the system worth using. Implications for scholarship and practice in the study focus on additional research being done on the nontraditional model and exhort educators to engage in introspection surrounding their grading practices as well as finding a supportive community as they move to a nontraditional model.

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