THE FAILURE OF THE TRADITIONAL GRADING SYSTEM
We must re-define what constitutes successful learning. Here the bar must certainly be raised.
The “A” to “F” grading system must be eliminated. Such a grade designation serves no worthwhile purpose. In the case of the “F” grade, it labels students as failures: a distinction that to often the students are willing to live up to. In the case of the “D” grade, it makes low performance and ignorance an acceptable standard for promotion. Grades “A” thru “C” are generally the result of factors other than learning itself. In many cases, the completion of assignments, and student conformity, cooperation, and character influence these grades, either reducing them or inflating them.
A colleague remembers the first time (in the late 50’s) she ever received a “C” on her report card. She was in the fourth grade. She cried all the way home, thinking about what a disappointment this grade would be to her parents, and how embarrassed she was to have her teacher make such a low estimation of her.
Contrast this to the 7th grade language arts student who recently entered the classroom on the first day of school, approached his new teacher and asked, “Teacher, what do I have to do to get a “D” in this class?”
What a sad state of affairs when our students are high-fiving each other at the end of the grading period for successfully not getting an “F.” Too many students have decided to “play the system,” instead of working for what they really need from the system.
In many instances, the “D” grade is used as nothing more than a rationalization for passing on a child who has actually failed, but “needs to move on.” The “D” is given simply because “he/she tried” (but apparently we don’t think he/she can learn).
As long as we “award” the “D” grade, we are by implication telling our students that there is little real importance in education, despite all of our statements to the contrary. Is this really the message we want to give kids? As long as our system dispenses grades of “D” and continues to advance students with less than a “C” grade point average, then a normal high school diploma means little more than a guarantee that “this student has graduated with at least an unsatisfactory education.” MORE...
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