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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

A grade-free utopia — or aristocracy?

The Crawleys of Downtown Abbey

Imagine schools and colleges without grades, writes Mark Barnes in Education Week. “Imagine classrooms where teachers never place numbers, letters, percentages, or other labels on students’ work; where report cards don’t exist; and where the GPA has gone the way of the dinosaur.”

Doug Lemov doesn’t see Utopia. He sees aristocracy. Also stupidity.

Evaluations allow talented students to rise, Lemov writes. “When there is no grounds to judge, the elites” win all the goodies. “And aristocracy won’t be any better if it’s an aristocracy of elite progressives.”

Well-educated parents pass their privilege on to their children,  noted The Economist in a story on America’s new aristocracy.

Far more than in previous generations, clever, successful men marry clever, successful women. . . . Power couples conceive bright children and bring them up in stable homes. . . . They move to pricey neighbourhoods with good schools, spend a packet on flute lessons and pull strings to get junior into a top-notch college.

Few students from low-income or working-class families qualify for elite universities.

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