So here is an idea, and I will admit this is a radical and potentially game-changing idea for teachers, but…
Why don’t we get rid of grades?!?
I know what you are going to say, “We can’t actually get rid of grades, because our students have to leave here to go to college and they need their GPA’s.”
So I will respond with, “But why don’t we simply have student “grades” that are similar to check plus, check, check minus, and not acceptable and then have the traditional numerical grades for colleges and other schools. In this fashion, the students would receive the grades that they (and their parents and their colleges) hold dear, but we can simply focus on the understanding and mastery of our courses.
As a teacher the convention of “grades” and “giving” grades as assessments has always been a thorn in my side. (Read my full rant about the Meaning of Grades here.) Now don’t’ get me wrong, I believe totally that the ideal purpose for grades and the original intent for them is fine – a clear delineation of material mastered by an individual. My major problem these days is that my students don’t seem to believe the same. Almost every student that I have simply wants to get the “grade,” as if that is the most important thing and that the associated learning is totally secondary.
As a teacher who believes totally that learning goes far beyond school and “grades”, I would love to help my students return to an understanding of what Exceptional Work really is and the incontrovertible fact that not everyone can do it. I would love to get back to the idea that while yes it is true that everyone can do everything – we cannot do it equally. I have no desire to tell students what they can and cannot do, but I wonder, are we really preparing them for the “real world” by telling them that they are all perfect and that if you work hard enough “everyone can make an A?”