What Would the World Look Like Without Grades?

Reflection: This week we discussed grades. The first wonderful surprise I found out was that teachers would be more motivated to teach without grades than less! That is quite the thought provoking epiphany. Does grading students actually hold teachers back?



My second thought about this week was what do grades tell about the students? Was Brian Jones correct in his tweet? I don’t think that grades are just about college admission. I think they show stakeholders how much progress has been made or needs to be made by the student. Do stakeholders understand this?


Another point of reflection was brought up by Samantha Bates. Would parents actually care if we just got rid of grades? She seems to think it would only effect tested subject areas. Does this mean non-tested areas don’t matter as much to parents? Are parents like the state and only care about test scores?

The final thoughts on this week’s blog I have is what is my purpose of teaching physical education. To me physical education is more about creating a positive association with movement and physical literacy than it is strictly teaching the curriculum.  Maybe we should put in the grade book a spot for how students feel about physical education at the end of each marking period! I firmly believe it is those who feel that physical literacy is important will be the ones to continue to practice it for the rest of their lives.

What are grades? What do grades tell us? Please read this quick storify of a conversation I had today.  My school went to standards based grading last year.  It was hard for people to understand at first.  My school did an excellent job giving stakeholders the information they needed to understand this change.  They used these two resources Resource 1 and video to help explain this new process. They also met with stakeholders to explain this to them and field any questions they may have had.  The transition was as painless as possible considering they just changed an educational foundation!

@MrZawlocki stated to me that “Grades are not assessments. They are supposed to be communication of learning. Whether single mark or narrative.”  I counter that grades are drawn from assessments.  How can you communicate what has been learned unless you assess? So in my logic (which may be flawed) grades are a representation of assessments.  (he agrees that assessment is needed)

@mssackstein is getting rid of traditional grades this year. This is her video explaining the beginning of her process bit.ly/1yrlQj3.  It will be exciting to see how this goes for her this year. She declared “…grades are…easy for teachers… nothing else. The represent very little.”  I think letter grades represent very little.  Standards based grading represent exactly what education needs.  A clear statement to stakeholders that the student mastered the standard, is working toward the standard, or the standard hasn’t been introduced yet.  “By comparing one child’s performance to a clear standard, parents, students and teachers all know precisely what is expected. Every time a student attempts a task, the performance is compared to the standard, not the other students’ performances.  The most important advantages for students and families are fairness, clarity, and improved learning.” (Douglas B. Reeves, 101 Questions and Answers about Standards, Assessment and Accountability, 2004)

This made think what would happen if we didn’t give out grades at all? Nothing. No letter grades and no standards based grades. Nothing at all. Let’s discuss this week!

Q1 If we didn’t give grades would ts still be motivated to teach? #slowchatpe

Q2 If we didn’t give grades would ss still be motivated to learn? #slowchatpe

Q3 What do grades really mean? #slowchatpe

Q4 Is standards based grading the best method to show student growth? #slowchatpe

Q5 Would parents understand or care if ts stopped giving out grades? #slowchatpe


One thought on “What Would the World Look Like Without Grades?

  1. @MrZawlocki

    Thanks for blogging this. Twitter is great but I often find myself caught in circular discussions where no one gets their message across. It is hard to have a deep conversation on grading and assessment in 140 characters. It sounds like we are actually on the same page. I’ll be posting my responses to your questions tonight.



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