It seems counterintuitive that America’s education system is based off of earning grades rather than learning. In the A-F letter grade system used in most schools in America, the focus of most students is to earn a high grade. Memorizing material for a test simply to get a good grade, and then forgetting the material right after the test is not a good way to learn. Long-term learning has to be a priority. The focus should be creating a society where education brings out creativity, and teaches us to become critical thinkers and innovators. In other words, America’s education system should teach the importance of learning instead of performing.
Allen, J. D. (2005). Grades as valid measures of academic achievement of classroom learning. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and I, 78(5), 218-223.
Teachers have different preferences when it comes to grading. Some prefer to have grading system that includes behavior and participation. It focuses on more areas than a standards-based grading system, which only focuses on academics. Although it focuses on more areas, this system can be seen as unpredictable since it takes away from students academic achievements in different subjects. Other teachers prefer to use the standards- based grading system, since they believe it’s more predictable and expectations are more clear. They also think this system is better because colleges accept students mostly on their academic achievements, so they think its important to not have grades affected by things other than academics.
Brookhart, Susan M. “Starting The Conversation About Grading.” Educational Leadership 69.3 (2011): 10-14. Educational Administration Abstracts. Web. 6 Feb. 2017.
When teachers and school districts discuss which grading methods to use, the first important step is decide the purpose grades. Decide on what grades should mean, and what message they should convey to students. Questions like which grading scale to use, how often to report grades, how many grades to combine, and how to combine them will ineffective to discuss first. First ask every member what grading practices they believe in. For example, the standards-based grading system focuses on “what students learn, not what earn,” while other practices are the other way around. After a conclusion is decided on, then secondary issues can be talked about.
Carey, Theodore, and James Carifio. “Minimum Grading, Maximum Learning.” Principal Leadership 11.7 (2011): 42-46. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
The implementation of minimum grading can have many positive affects on students. Minimum grading in some school systems is not submitting any grades below a 50. For students who are inconsistent struggle in some areas, but thrive in others, this system works best for. This increases motivation and self worth in students. For example, if a student gets a zero on an assignment they forgot to turn in, and had one very low test grade in the beginning of the year, they won’t lose all hope in still achieving a good grade for the class. They will be motivated to still try to get a good grade, as opposed to giving up and not caring about the class anymore.
Kohn, Alfie. “The Case Against GRADES.” Educational Leadership 69.3 (2011): 28-33. Educational Administration Abstracts. Web. 6 Feb. 2017.
Current grading systems in place are not affective. Having a letter or number scale grading system takes the focus of students off of learning, and more on what grades they’re receiving in a certain class. Grades also create the problem that students will choose the easiest way out when projects are assigned to get a good grade. For example, students will pick a topic they know the most on when choosing so it is easier to earn a better grade. Student-teacher conferences and narrative assessments could be a possible replacement for the grading system. These would provide summaries of student progress in writing or in person. This way, the progress of students can still be measured, just not through a number or letter grade system.
Spencer, Kyle. “Standards-Based Grading.” Education Digest 78.3 (2012): 4-10. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
The standards-based grading system is a system in which only mastery in course subjects is measured. This method encourages students to move from learning simple concepts to understanding complex concepts. The standards-based grading system does that because it only measures academic success. The system works by providing an overall grade for each class, but also provides a grade for how well the student mastered the course based on its standards. Supporters of this system say that the traditional system is unreliable since its criteria is vague. They also say that this system is better since grades cannot be affected by other factors that don’t including mastering the subject.
It might surprise you to know, Aeks, that your teachers couldn’t care less about your grades. What grade you earn, in fact, is of no importance to us at all, bores us to tears, causes us only aggravation, and seems just as pointless to us as it does to you. May I tell you the only reason we ever spend more than a minute thinking about your grades?: because they matter to YOU.
Surprised? If I tell you that I would much rather teach this course without any responsibility to grade your essays, would you think I was missing the point of my job? I want you to get better at the skill we’re practicing. I work very hard to give the very best advice I can to guide you toward greater clarity, facility, persuasiveness; and I love seeing improvement. But I promise you I couldn’t care less if you improve from F to D or from B to A, and I would VERY MUCH like to be relieved of the burden of having to track your progress numerically (or in my example, alphabetically). EVEN MORE would I love never to have to justify my assessment or feel that erring on the low side might cost a deserving student any opportunity.
That said, I hope you’ll consider what it is you’re in your classes to accomplish. If you know without a doubt you’re a stronger thinker coming out of the class than going in, but your grade does not reflect the progress you’ve made, would you feel vindicated? cheated?
Is that a perspective you anticipated? Does it help you to consider just who’s insisting on grades? I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t reply. I too like feedback. For best results, keep the conversation going, please.
I’m not sure if this will work, but I was trying to base my argument from a student’s perspective. I agree that teachers don’t care about grades, but students are so blinded by earning a high grade that they don’t really care about learning. I think it’s different in college because you want to learn about your major so you can get a job, but in grade school and high school I think that most students are focused mainly on grades and not the material they are learning.
Thank you for replying, Aeks. I see evidence in your paragraph that you’re trying to view the “grade problem” from the student perspective, but do you think the problem can be solved by students?
When you say, “the focus of most students is to earn a high grade. Memorizing material for a test simply to get a good grade, and then forgetting the material right after the test is not a good way to learn,” you’re arguing that students are more grade-driven than long-term-goal-oriented. But when you say, “America’s education system should teach the importance of learning instead of performing,” you put someone else in charge. Who decides “what the system teaches” or “how the system teaches”?
You’re not wrong to wonder, and I wholeheartedly agree that any artificial incentive, such as grades, will skew participants’ actions, but how do we break this tradition? If nobody has developed an alternative in hundreds of years, is the answer, “Oh, well”?
Your reply prompts another observation: motivations are different for students at different grades. I hope you’re right about college students caring more about the subject matter than about the grade, but I suspect that’s not as common as you claim. If it is true, though, that’s an important finding on your part that could point the way to some sort of solution.
Thinking in both directions from high school, let me pose a question. If getting better grades in high school is essential for admission to the school of one’s choice, then grades are a powerful motivator for at least some high school students. But the same cannot be said of grade school, can it? Does anybody need great K-8 grades to get into the best high school? And on the other side, does anybody need a great college GPA to land a job after graduation? In both cases I’d guess, sure, for some, it’s essential, but for most, it’s not.
So . . . maybe the best way to reduce the impact of grades is to change the way colleges rank applicants.
Or . . . can you suggest an alternative grading method that actually measures “learning” as you define it instead of “performing” as you call it?
And finally . . . exactly how many courses actually depend on “memorizing material for a test”? Name those courses and use them as your examples. How else could subject mastery be measured in those courses if we’re going to have grades at all?
For me and for this course, I won’t ask you to memorize anything. Ours is a skills course. You might certainly argue that you’ll be graded on an inappropriate metric, but I don’t think your stated objection to short-term memory dumping applies to courses like ours.
Is this helpful? Any further thoughts?
(CHECK FOR REPLY FEB 07)
I appreciate your reply.
This was helpful. I don’t think I would be able to come up with an alternate solution to the grading system, so I’m thinking I need to change things up. Maybe I could change my research to focusing on how grades are so important in highschool, but not in college and/or changing the way college ranks applicants?
Don’t give up so easily on that new invention of yours, Aeks. As you read further in your topic, stay alert to actual advantages of grades and see if you can accomplish the same benefits through other means. If grades turn out to be a necessary evil, then focus on ways to reduce the negatives. Again, you’re not yet seeking ways to prove an unalterable thesis; you’re looking for whatever surprises your research presents so that you can prove a thesis your research offers.
Aeks, I need links, and you haven’t given yourself an assignment here. Reply, please.
I need to provide links and write purposeful summaries for my 5 sources.