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Essay On Grading System Is Bad

In Colorado, districts want to get rid of ‘D’s’ in their grading systems. In Virginia, there are efforts to standardize what an ‘F’ signifies. In an Iowa district, letter grades on report cards are supplemented by more frequent teacher feedback focused on priorities. It seems that letter grades are no longer making the grade when it comes to measuring student progress.

In fact, they’re “relics from a less enlightened age,” says education expert Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards and Schooling Beyond Measure and who Time magazine describes as “perhaps the country’s most outspoken critic of education’s fixation on grades [and] test scores.”

According to Kohn, letter grades are not only unnecessary but harmful.

“The research quite clearly shows that kids who are graded – and have been encouraged to try to improve their grades – tend to lose interest in the learning itself, avoid challenging tasks whenever possible (in order to maximize the chance of getting an A), and think less deeply than kids who aren’t graded,” Kohn explains. “The problem isn’t with how we grade, nor is it limited to students who do especially well or poorly in school; it’s inherent to grading.

“That’s why the best teachers and schools replace grades (and grade-like reports) with narrative reports – qualitative accounts of student performance – or, better yet, conferences with students and parents.”

Some states weighed the pros and cons of letter grades and decided to replace them with standards-based grades that are designed to measure students’ proficiency on well-defined course objectives. Kentucky was the first to attempt such a statewide reform, starting in 2013. Schools sent home two report cards – one with letter grades, and another indicating how proficient a student was in various standards, like reading and writing, with a narrative description of progress.

Kentucky parents overwhelmingly preferred the new report cards, according to school surveys.

“They became our strongest supporters because it gave them more and better information,” Thomas Guskey, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky and a leading advocate for standards-based grading, told Slate magazine. “When parents have the experience of this they can see the value.”

In traditional grading, letter grades report the number of points earned in a subject but not very much about what the student has learned. Standards-based grading, proponents say, offers better feedback by evaluating how well students meet measurable mileposts and objectives. That, in turn, improves instruction for each individual student, and it allows the student more ways to demonstrate that they’ve learned the material before moving on.

Virginia’s Fairfax County Public School district adopted standards-based grading in all elementary schools during the 2012-2013 year. At first, parents were confused, but eventually most were appreciative of the amount of detail provided, as well as the ability to track their children’s progress.

The district has also proposed making changes to the way middle and high school grades are delivered. Moving towards more standards-based grading, the district proposed separating out grades for student effort and achievement. So whether or not a student completed a homework assignment is separated from how well he or she understands the concepts. Other proposals include changing the weighting systems teachers use to formulate grades and eliminating zeros so that the lowest score a student can be given for an ‘F’ grade is 50 percent.

“It is time to examine our current grading policies in an effort to ensure that we have consistent and equitable practices throughout our middle and high schools,” deputy superintendent Steven Lockard wrote in a message to educators.

According to Alfie Kohn, however, the problems with grades – the way they undermine students’ interest in learning, preference for challenge, and depth of thinking – can’t be solved by just tweaking the details.  In some ways, he says, standards-based grading “may even make things worse by getting kids more focused on the details of how well they’re doing – rather than being engaged with what they’re doing.”

Ken Halla has been a high school history teacher in Fairfax County for 24 years. His view is that no matter what the system of measurement, a student and his or her parents should always know where they stand during a semester.

“A student should always know what they have learned and what they haven’t learned,” he says. “The best way [to assign grades] is the one in which students realize their deficiencies most easily.”

Halla wishes students were motivated just by learning, “but that is not realistic as they have to get into college or get a job after high school,” he says.  “To that end grades (be they numbers or letters) are a motivating factor – not unlike money for an employed person. What I have been doing is moving towards personalizing the learning experience for my students, so assessments always depend on the student and the situation.”

Teachers have always used grades to measure the amount a student has learned. This practice is becoming ineffective. Many students have a wide range of grades, which show that grades may not show what a student really knows. Therefore, the standard grading system should be replaced. Some reasons why grades should be replaced are bad grades can hinder a child's performance, grades define who a student is in the classroom, and grades are not an effective way to see if students have learned the material. The current grading system should be upgraded and every school should incorporate the plus / minus system in their method of grading.

The public high schools began a grading system as a way of telling an individual how they were performing. There was no interest by the public in reporting the school's progress at teaching. Teachers, in an effort to recognize outstanding performers, looked for a way of rewarding hard-working students for their efforts The grading structure changed from superior and excellent to A's and B's. This placed much of the burden of recognizing academic talent on the high schools. Hindering a student's performance with a bad grade in the middle of the year can make them give up for the rest of the year.

Once a student has received a bad grade they might lose faith in their academic ability. By giving up a student does not reflect their academic ability and their bad grades are not based on what they learned. Students are defined by their grades in the classroom. Teacher and classmates might see a student with low grades as a slacker or dumb, when that is not always the case. A student can be excluded from their peer groups because they have a bad grade.

Being left out can make a student not want to improve academically. If they get bad grades others will see them as a poor student and will expect them to do poor in life. The process most schools use to evaluate student performance is grade point average and class rank. The academic recognition programs that exist in the United States are driven by a student's grade point average and class rank. Those measures serve as the primary method in establishing student recognition. If this ranking is not the sole factor in the recognition program, it is always included in the student's assessment.

The school culture recognizes individuals that are in the top one-third of the school's class rank The national dropout rate has been about 15 percent. In 2002, 11 percent of young people aged 16 to 24 in the civilian, non-institutionalized population were not enrolled in and had not completed high school. While the exact magnitude of the problem may be elusive, the fact that it's particularly severe in large urban schools has been understood for some time. One study looked at high schools in the nation's 35 largest cities and identified 200 to 300 schools - about half of the regular and vocational high schools in those cities - where more than 50 percent of the students drop out. A study of Philadelphia schools found that 57 percent of those who repeated ninth grade wound up dropping out compared with just 11 percent of those who passed ninth grade. Grades are not an effective way to see if students have learned the material.

Students learn what they need to know to pass tests. A student can simply memorize material for a test and forget it as soon as the test is over. Other students who don't have this skill have to really study. Some students are not good test takers, but that does not mean they don't know the material. These students are usually found to result in cheating. It could be considered unfair to reward students equally when there are large differences in their accomplishments.

For example, under the current grading system, both 81 and 89 yield grades of B. This doesn't truly reflect the effort the students put into the class. The plus / minus system would allow this difference to be noted in final grades and allow faculty to reward the superior performance of the student who earns an 89. If a student is in the middle, for example a 'B' near the end of the semester, the availability of a 'B+' can be an incentive to work harder to achieve the higher grade The addition of +/- options provides a more accurate and fair system for recognizing student performance in coursework. A plus / minus system would bring school into conformity with the grading policies of other schools. Without the plus / minus system, two students could both receive 4.

0 grade points for the same class, even if one student earned a 92 percent and the other earned a 98 percent. With plus / minus grading, the student with the lower grade would receive an A-, which gives students only 3. 7 grade points. So, Plus / minus grading can have a detrimental effect on GPA. Using plus / minus grades might cause a student to question why they received "just a B" instead of a "B+", or why they received a "B-' instead of a "B." Students may not be happy with a B+; they want an A.

The same could be said for a B-; they want a B. This could be discouraging to the students. Certain combination of grades could cause a student to not qualify for scholarships, Dean's lists, or certain colleges. Grades should be replaced.

Some reasons why grades should be replaced are bad grades can hinder a child's performance, grades define who a student is in the classroom, and grades are not an effective way to see if students have learned the material. All of these reasons play a role in why grades should be replaced with another way of evaluation. Works Cited U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

(2001). Dropout rates in the United States: 2000, NCES 2002-114, by P. Kaufman, M. N. Alt, &C.

D. Chapman. Washington, DC: Author, p. 2. web 2001/.

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