Questioning grading

Questioning any long-established practice that is “just how we do it” is the essence of critical thinking. In most schools grading is such a practice. With few exceptions, everyone does it, even in the face of decades of evidence that it hampers learning, saps motivation, causes endless headaches for teachers, and doesn’t really reflect actual student learning. (See Alfie Kohn – The Schools Our Children Deserve. For a taste online, see The Costs of Overemphasizing Achievement or choose your own from this list.)

But everyone has to, right? No. Here’s proof from Joe Bower, who writes the for the love of learning blog about abolishing grading.

Intrigued? Think it’s just a pipe-dream? Read Joe’s extensive list of the whys, hows and concrete examples of what he does with his students.

You HAVE to give grades? OK, but check out Joe’s Grading without Grading, on how to “bring the kids in on it” with portfolios, self-assessment, and authentic assessment.

Wondering about parents, administrators, or how to detox students from their deeply held expectations that school = grade? Well, this is getting redundant – Read Joe’s extensive list.

And I know what you are thinking “well, sure, but he’s probably in some crazy fuzzy-headed school… that can’t happen here..” But, no, he’s not alone…

Joe is organizing a group of educators who each have declared a “Grading Moratorium” in their classrooms. They are banding together to document what they do and provide evidence of success to others. Read their posts to find out what they do and why it flies in the face of “that’s just how things have always worked.” They have all agreed to be contacted by others and answer questions about what they do.

Question grading. Read the testimony. See what you think.