Contributed by Kara Bellis, Middle School Language Arts Teacher
Today I contemplated the role of grades in our educational system. How are they impacting students? Why are they necessary? Is there a more effective alternative? As an educator, we strive to help students grow. This growth surely cannot be measured by a single letter grade or percentile. Yet, we continue to categorize, assess, and label our students with a grade. Are there other, more profound ways our students can receive feedback on their growth? How have they gained valuable problem solving skills? How have they learned to collaborate and use 21st century skills to enhance their learning? Surely, these valuable skills cannot be measured through a mere quarterly grade.
In addition, how might these grades be confining our students? Are they inhibiting our students from experimenting with out of the box ideas and thinking? Are grades forcing them to “play school” so they can increase their GPA or class ranking? We know students all learn differently and at different rates. Knowing this, should we be focusing our time on valuable feedback and interaction with students so that we can individualize their learning and instruction?