Professional Development Opinion

Throwing Out Grades Is Not Without Its Challenges

By Starr Sackstein — July 25, 2016 1 min read
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One would expect some push back when making major changes to education. Students, parents and even other teachers often have challenges dealing with adjustments that aren’t like what they are used to.

Change is hard even to those who want and crave it.

Consistency even when not meaningful has a way of making people feel safe.

So when I decided I was going to change my grading practices, you can imagine some of the concerns and challenges I was to face.

Although students often appear to understand the necessity of the shift after many conversations as full class discussions, small groups and one on one conferences, there are setbacks we face. For example, when discussing standards, students still are trained to wait for and focus on the grade.

Many refocusing conversations need to be had and we must be patient.

Honestly, it took me many years to come to this point after many years of disservice to my students with punitive measures taken when they didn’t comply with my rules. It wasn’t really about achievement, it was about control.

Many of my of high functioning students relied on this practice because they are good at playing the game of school. Lower functioning kids usually rebel and pretend they don’t care about their learning.

By getting rid of grades, students can focus on what they know and can do and develop strategies for skills and content they have yet to master. This is a much more inclusive teaching philosophy because no one is expected to be the same.

So I’m not giving up.

What challenges are you experiencing with grading practices in your classroom? Please share

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