Do grades/levels really have a place in 2015?


I'm sitting here tonight filling in grades in our online reporting system and really struggling with the point to it. Numerous studies claim that grades lead to a fixed mindset and don't help children learn. I have witnessed first hand how grades can destroy a child's confidence and willingness to even try and achieve something. And not just with those children who get the low grades; often those who get the top grades suffer just as much with the 'what if I don't get an A?' syndrome. 

I am just baffled as to why we continue to label something which is so hard to define with a single letter or number. How can the sum total of all our knowledge be defined in such a flippant way? Why do we as educators allow it? Why do parents get so hung up on grades?

To me learning is a continual process that cannot, and should not, be so easily labelled. It can have such long-lasting, devastating repercussions on someone's self-belief. Everyone has different skills and everyone develops at different rates. I bet if you look at most adults you would not even be able to guess what grades they got in school. We all reach a fairly similar standard in the end.

My classroom next year will be a grade-free zone but that doesn't mean it won't be a learning, progress-making, what-are-the-next-steps zone. 


Author Profile

Emma Dawson

Emma Dawson

Teacher of young people (9-13) working in Sweden. Love sharing and collaborating.

2 stories


Marcin Kołodziejczyk Marcin Kołodziejczyk @martin 2 years ago
All you have said about grading is so true... And to top it off, students are so accustomed to grading that even if you replace standard grades by even detailed comments on their progress, they ask for what they are used to.
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
For me, the issue is a lack of credible alternative to grades and terminal examinations. Whilst I agree that there are many issues with the exam (and, perhaps more accurately, the target culture), we still do need to be accountable for those of us spending and paid for through public money....
Emma Dawson Emma Dawson @squiggle7 2 years ago
I understand the need for accountability, I just hate the need for kids to know their grades. I just don't think it helps. Having sat with a 12 year old balling his eyes out doing a national test because he got an F last time I fail to see how grading helps. As someone who recently got told that because I got an A on an essay I didn't need any feedback irks me. Our priorities are wrong.
[Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] [Retired Colleague] 2 years ago
I agree. Students can still be tracked and people can accountable without the student being told their grade all the time.
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