Grading Outside the Box

Here’s an example of how one school is thinking outside the box to evaluate students’ mastery of skills & concepts without using the traditional letter-grade approach. Rather than assigning an evaluative “stamp” to a student’s learning (ie., he got a “B” on this standard, she got a “D” on that standard), they simply assign the standard.

The student learned to identify two and three digit numbers that are odd & even, for example – didn’t get a “C”, “B”, or “A” in that skill, but simply learned it.

What does the letter grade tell us, anyway? If our job is to teach students to identify those numbers, what really is there for us to know other than that they learned it or didn’t?

If there’s nothing especially helpful in knowing a student’s work is “C” level, is there anything inspiring for a student to know that?

I’m not sure about this, but I think they might have tapped into something here.

What do you think?

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2 Responses to Grading Outside the Box

  1. E. Yearout-Patton says:

    How do you think AP, PSAT, SAT, GPAs, LSAT, MCAT, GRE, and other higher level testing boards would consider such an idea? What about higher education; how would they see such an idea?

  2. pgretz says:

    Great question – I can only give an opinion, which is I don’t imagine higher ed. thinking this way about grades any time soon – same with the testing boards, who I believe are tightly linked to higher ed. I think higher ed. is generally coming from the “we put it out there, it’s the student’s job to get it” perspective. Tough to generalize, of course – that’s just the reputation.

    As far as what they might think about K-12 schools doing it – not sure. I think if kids are succeeding on those tests, they probably wouldn’t worry about our philosophy. If they weren’t succeeding – they might blame the philosophy.

    If it were used to truly measure what students learn – and it accompanied reteaching (to mastery), then more students would enter college with the proficiencies universities are hoping for.

    My 2 cents…