Day 14 (of 187) my prethink on Sunday sept 23 #bcedchat on Grades or No Grades

Day 14 (of 187) my prethink on Sunday sept 23 #bcedchat on Grades or No Grades

Letter grades. How quaint. And outmoded. Not to mention vague. Often inflated…or deflated due to things on the periphery of Learning.

I get frustrated with the vagueness of lettergrades and even more uncomfortable when they are attached to a “precise” percentage – I still remember a friend got 85.499999999% in biology and the teacher wouldn’t budge because of behaviours.

I hate that if I know the socioeconomics and relational status of a family, I can do a pretty good job of predicting their letter grades….but I can’t fake an eportfolio because it has authentic examples of student work.

I see report cards using 3s on all outcomes and one subject will have an “A”, another a “B” and still another column of 3s = C+

I struggle with people saying a child can’t earn a letter grade because they didn’t do enough of the same tasks as the other student in the classroom….

I worry when people hold back As (or other letters) as an “incentive” to work harder…and even. Or even greater minutia trying to figure out if it is a strong or weak letter grade…is 86% the same as 95% and what’s the difference between 85 & 86….a scholarship??

I worry when a number of tasks used to calculate a letter grade aren’t connected to specific learning outcomes but whatever the textbook recommends….

I love that universities are looking at how efolios might help identify students with skills needed to be successful in advanced learning programs (where what you did to earn a grade/%/etc is more important that the single letter/# on a transcript.

Classifying achievement/quality by lettergrades might be good for cuts of meat (and yes, this is how/where the comparison using letter grades on learners came from) but isn’t learning more complex than looking at the marbelization of a cut of meat? Can’t it be more personalized? Shouldn’t it be more personalized. Even McDonald’s allows customization so if you want extra mayo and no pickles, you get it….without judgement.

Too often letter grades are judgements….because I’ve heard comments that an “A” at school X isn’t really an A….and that a B is a good mark because teacher Y “doesn’t give As”….

Give letter grades? Do you need to ‘earn’ them by completing a set number of tasks? Or showing how you understand the learning outcomes/big questions?

Maybe we should show samples of students work compared to performance standards and samples of work….but again, based on grade? Age? We design classrooms where, when I was a student, some of my best friends had almost a years worth of growth on me – is a December Birthday expected to be the same as someone born 11 months earlier? Wait a year for December babies? You’ve just created a different imbalance….

I believe that the next big shift in education will be the acknowledgement that every learner can be on an IEP (individualized education program) and make gains as they’re ready. Not every student will be able to be reading at ___ level by grade ___ and if we focus instead on creating the conditions to learn….and document their personal learning journey with descriptive feedback…but letter grades….time to retire them and level up to better communications of student learning!

About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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