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Top 4 Reasons Teachers Should Stop Grading Their Students

27 March, 2018

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Are scores and points enough to determine a student`s intelligence and predict success? “Don`t let grades define you,” we`re told every time we stress too much about our ranking in school. But as long as teachers evaluate learning the traditional way, getting acceptable grades will be the only thing that matters to a student who wants to graduate. There`s so much more that learners should experience and prioritize in school than worrying about an imperfect calculation of their achievements.
Here are the top reasons teachers should do away with traditional grading.

1.    Grades take the focus away from learning.

The bright ones are not always the straight-A students. Sometimes, they are those who struggle to perform well in school due to various factors. They may be the underprivileged students or slow learners whose fates are predestined by a flawed grading system. Meanwhile, those who are privileged and know how to work the numbers can effortlessly get at least a passing mark.

Good grades are not always proof that students have taken to heart what they have learned. Sometimes, students only do the bare minimum required to pass the subject, and then will forget those things once they are out of school. Performing for the sake of points is also what can demotivate students from learning and induce them to pay for essay writing services or outsource their homework to various online sites.

2.    Academic grading is subjective.

It`s up to the teacher how a student`s work is measured, thus making it subjective. While many activities have objective questions that are either right or wrong, they`re not enough to conclude the extent of the students` knowledge. There should be more opportunities to prove what they have learned in class. Give them constructive narrative feedback instead of just giving out points.

Involve the students in evaluating learning and identifying gaps to improve their learning experience. By replacing grades with narrative feedback, students can have the chance for self-evaluation and create productive conversations with their teachers.

3.    Weighting of activities is different for all teachers.

There are teachers who value exams more than projects and class participation, and vice versa. Lack of uniformity in weighting will make it hard to identify areas for improvement. For example, Ms. Science Teacher gives 75% for class participation and distributes the 25% among the other criteria. A student who does all the homework and aces all the exams, but is too shy to recite in class, will still fail Ms. Science Teacher`s class. Meanwhile, Mr. Math Teacher values exams more than participation, so this same student will pass the subject. In this situation, it will be an oversimplification to say the student is bad at Science and good at Math.

This also makes it easy for students to manipulate their scores and pass the subject. In Ms. Science Teacher`s class, they can actively participate in class discussions but not submit projects and fail the exams, and still pass.

4.    Grades trigger unnecessary competition.

According to Dylan Wiliam
, “when students receive both scores and comments, the first thing they look at is their score, and the second thing they look at is… someone else`s score.” Comparing scores may motivate a student to do better, but it may only be for the sake of beating another student. Comparison may also demotivate a student, knowing there`s always someone else who will have better grades. Either way, this kind of mentality will stop students from helping each other.

Learning can`t be represented by mere numbers or letters. By eliminating the traditional grading system and providing constructive feedback, both students and teachers will be more involved in assessing student learning. Students will be more motivated to actually learn and not just do the bare minimum, and teachers will find more ways to engage the class and help them excel. The focus will be on learning and not on the points associated with every activity.

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