White Paper-aeks123

Content Descriptions

-Exploring the Standards-Based Grading System

-The Cases Against Grades

-Comparing Grading Systems

– Minimum Grading Method

-Different Grading Techniques

Working Hypothesis 1:

If grades are necessary to measure student’s academic capabilities, the standards-based system is the most effective since it only focuses on academics.

It seems counterintuitive that there are grading systems that focus on other areas besides academic achievement. If colleges mainly base their acceptances off of academics, then it doesn’t seem fair that grades would be distorted by anything other than academics-by things like participation and behavior grades. The standards-based system also rates people on their mastery in a subject. Wouldn’t colleges like to know if we excel in one subject in particular, especially when looking at what major we apply for?

Purposeful Summary: Advantages of Standards-based grading

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.

Spencer, Kyle. “Standards-Based Grading.” Education Digest 78.3 (2012): 4-10. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Working Hypothesis 2:

Grades in school serve no purpose, and can actually do more harm than good.

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, 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.

 Purposeful Summary: Grades are Ineffective

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.

Kohn, Alfie. “The Case Against GRADES.” Educational Leadership 69.3 (2011): 28-33. Educational Administration Abstracts. Web. 6 Feb. 2017.

Topics for Smaller Papers

(Definition/Classification Argument)

Use this paper to explain the different grading systems and the thought processes behind them. Make it clear why educators have such different mindsets when it comes to grading.

Purposeful Summary: Comparing Grading Systems

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.

Brookhart, Susan M. “Starting The Conversation About Grading.” Educational Leadership 69.3 (2011): 10-14. Educational Administration Abstracts. Web. 6 Feb. 2017.

Purposeful Summary: Different Grading Techniques

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 it’s important to not have grades affected by things other than academics.

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.

Purposeful Summary: Minimum Grading

The implementation of minimum grading can have many positive effects 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

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.

(Cause/Effect Argument)

 Grades in high-school are important, but not in college. Colleges avidly look at high-school grades, GPA’s, and test scores. When applying for jobs, recruiters could care less about college grades.

In this paper I will explore:

-why is this the case?

-Then, why should high-school grades matter if college grades don’t?

(Rebuttal Argument)


There is no motivation for students to do well without having a number/letter grading system or no motivation for students to become a well-rounded student with the standards-based system.

Everyone will have to follow a standard-based system or no letter/number system in order for it to work.

It’s impossible to measure a student’s academic success without using the traditional letter/number system.

Current State of the Research

I have to do more research to see which hypothesis works best. Regardless of which one I use, my definition/argument paper can still work through the different grading methods. The cause/effect argument might have to change depending on what else I discover. Goals for future research would be to find sources for my cause/effect argument and to find better counterarguments.




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2 Responses to White Paper-aeks123

  1. davidbdale says:

    You’re doing good work here, Aeks. You’re in danger of ending up with a dreaded “survey essay” though, chatting lightly about a wide range of options without bearing down on a single solution to a problem. As soon as possible, narrow your focus to the option you feel is most likely to succeed universally. See my advice about your Definition Argument (and everybody else’s) at the Help for Definitions page under the Models menu.

  2. aeks123 says:

    1. Single cause with single effect
    Grades prevent learning. Having a grading system in place actually gets in the way of learning because students focus on getting good grades and not gaining knowledge in a subject.

    2. Single cause with several effects
    Having grading system in college is ineffective because college students are self-motivated, don’t have their parents around, are paying for school themselves, and actually want to gain knowledge so they can land a job after school. Grades are supposed to be used as a motivation tool, but if college students are already motivated since it’s their own time and money being used.

    3. Several causes for single effect
    Measuring missing assignments, participation, behavior, and attendance are reasons why grades are not an effective measurement of academic success. These factors only show how well a student did based of a teacher’s expectations, not how much they learned in a specific subject.

    4. A causal chain
    Grading is put in place to measure learning, but actually can prevent learning, which leads to the ability of grading systems to only measure grades. Since students face a lot of pressure to earn high grades, they don’t focus on learning. Instead, students can learn how to achieve high grades without actually learning that much, leaving grades to only measure grades.

    5. Causation fallacy
    Grades do not provide a report of students’s academic mastery in a subject. With everything clumped together in one grade, we don’t really know how much of a student’s grade actually shows how much knowledge they gained in a subject.

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