From the blog –January 16, 2018 by Sheldon Soper

For most of us, grades were always a part of school. Work was assigned, it was completed, and we were given a score reflective of our efforts and understandings. At regular intervals, these scores were compiled and sent home on report cards to inform our parents or guardians of our progress.

Over time, grades have become a ritual of the educational process that most students, parents, teachers, and administrators have come to expect as a measuring stick of progress and achievement.

Recently, there has been growing support for removing grades from the educational landscape altogether. Instead of A’s and F’s or 100s and 0s, there have been pushes for more authentic evaluative criteria like standards-based proficiency or relying exclusively on descriptive feedback. It makes sense; successfully facilitating a growth mindset in students involves assessment styles tied to more intrinsically relevant experiences than arbitrary numerical scales.

For all the merits of the no-grade argument, the reality for most districts is that simply abandoning grades altogether is a difficult proposition. For better or worse, parents know from their own experiences what grades are; there are entrenched expectations about their importance and the messages they imply.

On a logistical level, schools have policies about extra-curricular participation tied to specific grade qualifications. Colleges and employers still ask about things like GPA and class rank when evaluating candidates.

In response, some schools have adjusted the traditional grading model with a modified numerical scale that starts at 50% rather than 0%. In doing so, stakeholders still receive the quantifiable progress indicators of grades, but it changes the entire conversation about student agency in earning them.

Read more at the blog: The Implications of Grading Without Zeros