What if We Eliminated Grades Completely?

What if We Eliminated Grades Completely?

Why the traditional grading system isn't as effective for actual learning.
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Mark Barnes, an international speaker and author of five educational books, is one of the biggest advocates of eliminating the traditional grading system of the classroom. He says in his highly popular blog, "Brilliant or Insane: Education on the Edge," that "grades are just a math game," and that "If you know how to work the numbers, you can get a good grade." Barnes goes on to say that we, as Americans, need to turn to what he calls, "Assessment 3.0," where we inspire learning by ridding classrooms of grade books.

But what would happen if we accepted Barnes's methods and completely abolished the traditional grading scale we've all come to know (and often hate)?

One teacher decided to try it out. Starr Sackstein decided after many monotonous years of teaching in the traditional manner, that many students didn't walk away recalling most of the information covered throughout the course of the year, and thus, had not truly learned very much at all. However, after eliminating grades from the "math" of assessments, Sackstein found most of her students wanted to learn just for the sake of learning! She said in Education Week:

I would review each student's work, summarize and explain what I had observed, and ask questions. "Did you consider doing it this way?" I might inquire. "What would it look like if you tried this instead?" Soon, students had these informative conversations with each other, as they grew into enthusiastic, independent learners, who never feared a bad grade, because there were no grades. They never asked for extra credit, because there was no credit; there were only learning opportunities. Learning for the sake of learning.

She found success among the students, but not so much in her district's mandated need for a grade for each student. So when it came time, she even let them grade themselves. While many might assume her students would all give themselves A's because that's what we've come to be taught. Sackstein said that she "was astonished by self-evaluation of young people. Some even said that they deserved failing grades, because they didn't work as hard as they could have. While I hated the idea of placing a label on my students, the discussions about what they had accomplished and what they wanted to improve upon were invaluable."

Ultimately, eliminating traditional grades strongly improved greater learning for Sackstein's class, affirming Barnes' claims. Many other teachers have since jumped on the bandwagon and have seen near-equal triumphs in the information students recalled after the class, their self-confidence levels, and their self-awareness in areas that needed improvement.

Grade anxiety is a growing condition that plagues many students across the United States, according to many studies, so maybe it's time to abolish traditional grading all together. In addition, students give up learning after a steady stream of bad grades, and grading may also lead to more issues such as cheating or other unethical behavior.

Maybe the reality is that switching to authentic feedback and assessments to discern better what each student needs to improve upon will finally heighten overall thirst for learning. Actually learning something in a classroom that you can recall and utilize in your future life? Sounds like an A+ in my book.

Cover Image Credit: http://s2.favim.com/orig/140410/bad-grade-cartoon-disney-channel-f-Favim.com-1641729.jpg

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Our Leaders Need A 'Time-Out'

We all learned a few essential rules as children.

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As I look watch the news, I can't help but wonder if the lessons we learned as children might not serve our leaders well. They seem to have forgotten these basic lessons. I am reminded of the book by Robert Fulghum "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

Watch out, hold hands, and stick together.

I think this could be useful in a couple of different contexts. First, the current divisiveness in the country doesn't serve us well. We are first and foremost, a part of the family of humankind. Differences in politics, religion, and so on come in far behind that one important attribute. What happened to the notion of agreeing to disagree?

Second, when leaders get off a plane in another country, they should remember who they came with and who they represent - "watch out, hold hands, and stick together."

Clean up your own mess.

Trump seems to take great pleasure in blaming everyone else for their "mess." The government shutdown was someone else's fault – any Democrat. When the stock market went up, he happily took credit, but when it went down, he quickly shifted gears and placed the blame on the Federal Reserve Chairman. Daily and hourly tweets out of the White House place blame on someone else for his "mess." Sadly, he still likes to blame Obama and Hillary for his mess.

Don't lie.

Politicians have always had a bad reputation when it comes to honesty. Still, the number of lies that we hear from Trump (and members of his staff) is unprecedented even for a politician.

We all learned these lessons when we were little more than five years old. Now more than any time in history I think our leaders need a " time out" to re-learn these lessons.

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