- A move toward standards-based grading means many schools no longer give scores below 50 because they feel this does not accurately reflect student knowledge; instead, some schools are looking at other ways to report classroom behavior and lack of effort without affecting grades, District Administration reports.
- Because different teachers use grades to reflect different aspects of student’s education, some educators and parents feel that a simple grade does not provide enough information and sometimes discourages students from trying; “success indicators,” they say, may provide more information about areas that need improvement.
- Grade reform may not actually improve student achievement, but it does seem to better communicate what and how students are learning and seems to be increasing teacher and student satisfaction.
Grade reform is a controversial topic. Some parents and legislators see this as an attempt at “dumbing down” education. Clearly, grade reform faces many obstacles, particularly as it flies in the face of tradition. However, it is well worth the time for schools to look at the differences between traditional grading methods and standards-based grading and to consider the pros and cons of grade reform.
Some schools are moving toward new grading models based on competency-based learning. Such models are a better fit for personalized learning strategies that allow a student to move at their own pace from where they are to where they should be. Grades should reflect student knowledge, not necessarily how long it took the student to get there.
In the end, schools need to decide what grades mean. Are grades a measure of how quickly students learn? How well they study? How hard they work? Whether they are ready to move on? Are grades designed to inform teachers, parents, college admission boards or future employers? Since grades differ from state academic performance measures, it may be time to look at what grades are meant to reflect and if the current method is accomplishing that goal.