Posted on October 12, 2018
As rightly said by Chuck Grassley, and I quote, “What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world of learning. Today, in this highly competitive educational system, it is difficult to imagine a school-life without grades, but why? This is because grades have been prominently used over decades to define a person’s academic achievement, but what is undesirable in this process is judging that person’s intelligence and even personality. How are we sure that grades reflect the student’s accurate performance and promote deep thinking?
During my final school year, while I was preparing for my board exams, we used to have weekly graded tests, to see our progress. It is debatable how memorising the details from books through rote learning could help retain the information longer. In my experience, it is important to know what material should be graded. In case, we would have had practice tests which were not graded, we could have felt less worried about achieving a good grade and instead focused on the content of the course better. During final exams, students may not find those tests to be helpful, because they may not remember what they had learned the previous month. This is because students do not understand or apply those concepts to think but instead replicate the words of the book.
The article on “Case against grades” by Kohn has highlighted some essential points about how we can use other measures to provide feedback to students instead of using numerical or alphabetical reports. Grades are important to the extent where they do not de-motivate the child’s interest in a subject. I agree that portfolios and qualitative evaluation does help students to develop their intellectual and creativity skills. When we receive feedback in person, we are more determined to work towards improving our abilities. A simple example of this is how athletes perform well due to encouragement by their trainers or coaches on a regular basis. They do have score boards depending upon the type of sport they play, however, they first develop the skills and then test them. This eventually serves the purpose of making them confident, interested and content with the system of learning which provides a sense of intrinsic motivation to perform better next time.