Wisdom Begins with Wonder

Running blind

What is the purpose of grades?

I would argue that the purpose of grades is not reporting progress or measuring learning.

The purpose of grades is sorting, rewarding and punishing.

Students are sorted based on their grades (honor rolls, class tracking, awards, scholarships, college admissions, diplomas, etc.).

We reward the students who are compliant and punish those who are not. The short-term damage to learning is often severe. The long-term damage to the lives of students is immeasurable.

When you add in to this morass the fact that grades are often arbitrary, capricious, based on a teacher’s whims and whether or not they “like” a student, you paint a really ugly picture.

No wonder so may kids (and parents) hate school.

I am a teacher and love what I do. I hate grading.

I have 2 kids in school right now and I am hating the system more every day. Grading and all of its associated ills are just one aspect of this flawed system that I am growing increasingly weary of. Now that my own children are being negatively impacted by the inherent flaws of the system, my reaction is becoming stronger and more visceral daily.

I often say that I don’t know exactly what the best answers are but I sure can tell what they aren’t.

We are running the wrong direction in America’s schools and doing so as fast as we can… while wearing blindfolds.

running blind



2 comments ↓

  • #   Tracie on 10.04.11 at 9:37 am     

    Ugh. I have been struggling with this for quite awhile now, as well. I am the only one in my building who uses SBG and doesn’t give extra credit. I also starting using Modeling in the classroom which is so much more effort than most of my kids are used to putting forth. I am actually sitting at my desk, right now, wondering if what I am trying to change is worth the effort it’s going to take.


  • #   Bretta Wright on 10.09.11 at 2:36 pm     

    I completely agree with you! I think grading is the worst thing for a teacher. You can see so much potential in someone and their grades do not reflect the potential they have. I am not a teacher yet, but I have talked to several who literally hurt inside when they have to grade. I agree that grades can be a punishment or an award.


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