Letter Grades and Learning

My students started their self-assessment for Term 2 today (in the 2 French classes I teach).  I also managed to start the individual conferences with my students. During these conferences, we discussed the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for the term and how their knowledge, in relation to these PLOs, translate into a letter grade.  In doing this, we also discussed the Ministry of Education descriptions for each letter grade.

After completing a good number of individual conferences, here are some of the conclusions I made today:

Letter grades ….

– squash learning

– inhibit motivation

– contribute to the disengagement of students in our schools

– put undo pressure on students

– take away from the actual learning

– contribute to the decline of relationships: between parents and child, child and teacher, and parents and teachers.

– shut our most vulnerable students down.

I would much rather give each child an A in the classes I teach. I know, giving every student an “A” would mean that the “A” didn’t really mean anything, but it actually *may* mean a lot.

  • It may mean success for a child who may never have seen themselves as successful (especially at school).
  • It may mean extra time spent with family members.
  • It may mean that a child improves their attitude toward school.
  • It may help a child want to come to school.
  • It may put a smile on a child’s face, where there usually isn’t one present.
  • It may help increase a child’s self-confidence (albeit very temporarily).
  • It may improve relationships with those that matter to the child.

If you would like to take a look at some of the research about letter grades and what letter grades do to kids, here is some research for you to read:

From Degrading to De-Grading by Alfie Kohn

The Case Against Grades  by Alfie Kohn

If we want to engage, motivate, and encourage REAL learning by our students in our schools today and in the future, we need to look more closely at letter grades and how they are affecting our students. As a result, the answer is not to give each child an “A”, but the answer may be in doing away with letter grades altogether.

What do you think?

About Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.
This entry was posted in Assessment, Connections / Relationships, Curriculum, Reporting and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Letter Grades and Learning

  1. Pingback: For the Sake of Learning | 2educators1house

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