The Argument Against Giving Grades

Assigning a grade to a student has long been a way to summarize and categorize the quality of a student’s work. This allows the work to be compared to other pieces of work and chart a student’s progress. But just because it has been in use for a long time doesn’t mean that assigning grades is the ideal way to help students understand and grow their abilities. The argument against grading system is that it is too over-simplified, too subjective, too rigid, and potentially too discouraging to really encourage the growth of each unique student and their education.

Unfortunately, assigning a grade to a piece of work forces the grader to summarize the entire piece with only a single letter or number. While it is quick and easy to condense the entire piece of work down in this way, and helps graders categorize many pieces quickly, it really provides the student with very little useful information other than how their work adheres to the current grading standards.

A grade can also be a very subjective way to establish quality of work. Especially for work where there is no simple right and wrong answer, a student’s interpretations and responses may affect different graders differently. As a person, a grader has his or her own background, thoughts, feelings and experiences which can influence his or her interpretation or understanding with the piece of work. Despite efforts to remain impartial during the grading process, how the grader interprets the work can affect the grade.

However, even if the grader were perfectly analytical, the piece of work would still need to be compared to something in order to assign it a grade. The fact that each student is an individual with different experiences, feelings and worldview guarantees that each piece of their work is going to be unique to the student that created it. This makes it very hard to compare the very different pieces of work and grade them using the same standards. Some students may naturally create work that happens to meet the grading requirements very well, while others may be able to target their work, writing or creating specifically to meet the grading standards. Other work, however, while it may not be lacking in quality, may simply not be focused to comply with the rigid standards that determine the work’s grade.

Because of this, students who have put a great deal of effort into their work, and truly believe in the quality of their work, may receive a poor grade regardless. This impartial mark can be a great discouragement to students who can only assume that this low grade means that their work is unacceptable. The rigid system of grading can cause students to work hard to abandon their natural style of creating, writing or solving problems, because the current system does not embrace the great variety of uniqueness in their work.

Finding a better system to replace the practice of giving grades is a task that will take time and a great understanding of how individuals learn and how we can best inspire a unique person’s knowledge to grow. This will be challenging, due to every person being different, but it is vital to allow the learning process to evolve. After all, young people are the future, and by finding ways to make their education process better, we are finding ways to improve the future.

If finding new ways to help the education system grow and evolve inspires you, why not look into furthering your own education with a secondary education degree, in order to help further the education of others?