This important distinction just came up in a conversation I had with a few dynamic teachers at the Athenian School in CA, a school that seems like a place I would love to send my children to (always a good measure of a school):
Assessment is not synonymous with grading. Assessment means to assess against standards and criteria; grading applies a value to that assessment. Grading is a part of assessment, but “to assess” does not = “to grade.”
We can (and should) assess often in a variety of ways, allowing us to see where our students are at and provide helpful feedback to them on that. But we don’t have to grade that, nor should we, every time.
The buzz words in the education world right now on this matter are “formative” and “summative” assessments, but I think it’s important that all educators understand/remember (I sometimes forget, too!) that we always want to be assessing our kids and we sometimes want to be grading them.