Ever since my first year as a teacher, I have been assigning students grades for their class work, homework, tests and quizzes. It is logical to do so, right? After all, I received grades for my work growing up. However, as I do more and more professional reading and networking, my views on the traditional grading system are beginning to shift. This is not a small shift, but an epic, monumental, cosmic shift. One in which I feel like beating my head against a wall and exclaiming "What have I been doing to these poor children for all of these years?!?!?!?"
If you follow some of the same people as I do on Twitter, or have joined many educational blogs, you may have had the same seed planted in your own brain. The two questions that are battling it out in my brain are these: Are the grades I assign truly providing feedback and inspiring students to learn, grow, and improve? OR Am I simply punishing them?
These are difficult questions to not only think about, but to try and find answers to. Many teachers that I have spoken with have a very hard time understanding why I am questioning this system. Not only that, but something I often hear is: "But if you don't give grades, how will parents know what their children are struggling with?" What I wonder is this: Do the grades we give really provide parents with accurate information about their child's learning? Not only that, but am I alone in feeling like my time would be better spent giving written or verbal feedback about content of work instead of busying myself with trying to assign a numerical value to it? Not to mention the hours spent entering grades!
I am not saying this system is "wrong." I am just wondering if it is what is "best" for our children. I dread passing back papers, handing out progress reports and report cards. The look on the faces of some of my students is devastating. If I feel this way, how do THEY feel?
I don't have the answers when it comes to solving this "problem." However, I do have the desire to think more about it find out as much as I can from others. I encourage you to do the same. If you haven't thought about the way you grade before now, just spend some time reflecting. I am not criticizing anyone. In fact, as my principal often says, "teaching is one of the hardest jobs...to do well." But in order to make sure we are doing the best we can for our students, I think this topic deserves some attention and careful consideration.
Resources I have found helpful:
The Case Against the Zero
The Case Against the Zero