SEARCH BLOG: EDUCATION
A few months ago, I ran a spoof post: Detroit Public Schools To Drop Grading System
Occasionally, I get comments on older posts such as this which was obviously serious, but I'm not sure how well thought out.
When hiring prospective employees, a company is more likely to hire students that are driven, who participate in leadership opportunities at the university, students who put tremendous amounts of thought and effort into everything that they do. Those are the real students who are going places.I believe there may be a few problems with such a system:
Most importantly, if the grading system is done away with, students who are serious about their educational careers will take what is really important from their courses: the lessons taught to them.
A new system of rewards based on effort, drive, passion, and talent should be implemented. By using a grading system that ranks a student's performance, it encourages students to "make the grade" as opposed to "make the most of your experience, and grow as much as you can". Students will be more motivated and energetic to learn and acquire skills and knowledge in a friendly, grade-pressure-free, learning environment than in a negative, pressure cooker grade-worry atmosphere. The needed learning and acquisition of knowledge should be in a hand on, semi one-to-one, practical in-class "workshop" atmosphere of practice.
However, instead of an "A" through "F" grading system, a pass or fail might be more effective. This would encourage students to look past the insignificant letter grades but still reward those who put in the required effort. For those that go above and beyond their semester coursework, they won't take home an "A+" but instead what they have learned. Instead of listing a high GPA on their resume, students could point out educational accomplishments.
- A simple pass/fail system is seldom used for most human endeavors and even then there are some distinguishing assessments.
- Human Resource departments would be reluctant to hire someone when their "pass" may mean little more than "showed up."
- We, as individuals, tend to seek out the best service providers based on distinguishing qualifications... not "got 70% of the answers correct"... 70% of my surgeon's patients live.
- While there may be variations in the grading standards, even those are recognized after a short time... graduating from some schools with high grades is far more significant than graduating from other schools with high grades... so pass/fail will still have some significance based on the school... but not enough for picking medical students or awarding grants for research or any number of competitive areas
- Sports are part of school; will teams be based on a simple pass/fail? [maybe they already are to a certain extent, but we still have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strings.]
Rather than blaming assessment for student failure, it may be wiser to look to the real root causes:
- Individual effort
- Parental effort
- Instructor effort
- Cultural influences