Middle and high schools across the U.S. are discarding the traditional and switching to equitable grading. Though it comes with c certain benefits, many believe this system is setting up students for failure.
What is equitable grading?
Equitable grading eliminates the 100-point grade scale and does not penalize students for being late with their work or missing assignments.
The upside of equitable grading
Traditional grading is ideal only for children who have a stable home life. But even in those cases, children who are hypersensitive or overachievers might find assignments overwhelming.
Erasing systematic racism
Traditional testing and grading are often perceived as a symptom of systemic racism. Thus, deleting the conventional grading would benefit non-white students.
The pioneer of equitable learning speaks up
Joe Feldman, the pioneer of equitable learning, explained, “Classrooms are pressure cookers.” He added, “[Students are] now able to relax, say, ‘I can have a bad day,’ and spend more time on things. It changes the way the classroom feels.”
Feldman compared homework to a basketball game
The founder of equality grading said, “If I have a basketball game on Saturday, I go in the backyard, and I shoot free throws for an hour — nobody is looking to see how many free throws I make and then bringing it to the game and adding it to my score. It is very clear that I practice shooting those free throws because I need to practice to do well in the assessment. Same thing for homework.”
The more relaxed approach does not work for everyone
One Las Vegas student shared how this new method led to poor work habits, adding that even straight-A students only went to schools when they had a test.
Colleges are adapting, too
Over 80 percent of colleges consider removing standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT in their applications. The colleges also state that socioeconomic status significantly affects test scores.
Where is the downside of equitable grading?
Though on paper, everything sounds ideal, in reality, children are not learning to be responsible, work under pressure, or how to be accountable for their actions.
Drive for success
While learning for the sake of one’s knowledge is admirable, most children will not pick up books if they don’t have to. Some argue that if adults do not demand anything, kids will adopt a mediocrity way of living. Furthermore, even struggling children might believe they are not supposed to become successful. In their eyes, adults already see them as failures, so why bother?
A teacher’s opinion
Jeanne Penrod, an English teacher at a Nevada school district, was excited about the new system. She changed her mind after seeing students “game” the system.
Utilizing the system
The teacher shared, “They’re relying on children having intrinsic motivation, which is the furthest thing from the truth for this age group.”
Maryland’s teacher shared his experience
“I have kids who have barely come to class and turned nothing in but have 50 percent. [The rule] is one piece of the larger puzzle to inflate grades and graduation rates so school system leaders can claim success,” said Brian Donlon a teacher from Maryland.
Changes in grading policy
Weakening grades won’t help students who struggle with laziness, nor will it motivate them. Furthermore, it will not improve their home life. The traditional way has been around for over a century, and while it needs updating, removing responsibility leads to indifference. What do you think about the grading system? Should it be less rigid, or should there be entirely different solutions to keep children motivated and willing to learn?
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