not making the grade

How Do We Change A Cultural Fascination With Grades? |
"With over 100 responses this short straw poll indicates that it is not the lack of time or issues around timetabling that make this process a challenge, but a cultural focus on levels and grades. 58% of those who responded felt that it was this single factor that was influenced assessment implementation within schools."
If we have all been through schools that grade and sort, it is much harder to revise deep cultural orientations that are almost unconscious in many people.  We do not question grading nor are we able to easily see alternatives because of our own personal experiences.  Some homeschoolers, and many unschoolers, spend time understanding what effects the system has had on us and those conversations can be amazing.  But in the general population, the cultural norm is grading and it is performed globally now.  This, in spite of its fairly recent history.  Like the GDP, grades can be useless measures that are supposed to show something meaningful.

There is no critical need to grade students and this is especially true in the early years. Later students should be able to choose when they want to be evaluated or tested or graded with an eye to a portfolio or credential. The ability to make mistakes and explore without penalty is essential to learning.  Grading is based on managing learning, a model we need schools to move away from. Schools need to support learners. Feedback and assessment are different.

Grading itself is a harmful psychological process, a 19th-century behavioral approach, that 20th-century science can see past.  Grading greatly harms a teacher's relationship with students. Grading doesn't measure anything meaningful and it is a social control mechanism that I call social violence in its psychological impact in more circumstances that we commonly acknowledge.  We really do not want people who are grade-focused as it is always at the expense of learning.  Grading causes many of the side effects of alphabetic literacy today, effects rarely discussed or tracked. Grading undermines education and yet remains in use across the board.

Shouldn't grading on the curve be illegal in democratic countries? Do people even realize what that means anymore?

Alfie Kohn:

FROM DEGRADING TO DE-GRADING: Basic Questions About Assessment

ON BRIBING STUDENTS TO LEARN: Second Thoughts About A's, Praise, Stickers, and Contests

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