Grades lower self-esteem, discourage creativity, and reinforce the class divide, argues Michael Thomsen on Slate.
. . . the rigid and judgmental foundation of modern education is the origin point for many of our worst qualities, making it harder for many to learn because of its negative reinforcement, encouraging those who do well to gradually favor the reward of an A over the discovery of new ways of thinking, and reinforcing harsh class divides that are only getting worse as the economy idles.
In Ed Week’s Teacher, Kimber Larson, a sixth-grade teacher, advocates grading students on what they’ve learned, not on their behavior.
She doesn’t deduct points for late work or assign zeroes. However, “every assignment must be turned in, even if that means sacrificing their recess, special event, or class party until it’s completed.”
Instead of giving extra-credit points, she lets students redo assignments to show what they’ve learned, belatedly.
She grades only end-of-unit assessments.
It is a wonderful thing to see that my students feel safe to make mistakes as they discover, create, and grow throughout the learning process. Because I provide feedback instead of grades on their practice work and formative assessments, they aren’t focused on a score that will haunt them on their report card. The comments and corrections on practice work are much more meaningful than a grade, so they focus more on learning and appreciate the freedom to learn from their mistakes.
My daughter’s journalism teacher let students rewrite their stories, two or three times if necessary, to raise their grades. It was more work for the teacher, of course.
Broward County, Florida is considering eliminating the zero, making 50 the minimum grade for an uncompleted assignment.
Should grades be abolished? Based on learning rather than behavior?