In the article "Grading: not how, but why" by Alfie Kohn, the author investigates the supposed purposes of grading, their desired outcomes and their often unforeseen negative results on student engagement and learning. Mr. Kohn states that traditionally grades served three main purposes for educators: to sort students via performance, to motivate students to work hard and perhaps learn and to provide the student meaningful feedback on their learning. However, Kohn assures assessing grades to none of these things well and often present side-effects that are detrimental to learning, high-level thinking, creativity and engagement. Moreover, Kohn argues these negative side outweigh the traditionally held usefulness of grading. Importantly, Kohn stresses the educator should consider what they are trying achieve through grading and whether it is is necessary to facilitate learning, the ultimate purpose of education.
I find Kohn's argument philosophically engaging and well-intentioned, but idealistic and practical to apply to public schools and our societal organization. Student achievement is by nature distinctly individual; it is difficult force the unique achievement of each student into one-size-fits-all categories. Moreover, I agree grades receiving a poor grade can be disheartening and striving to achieve good grades be distracting and overwhelming. However, some sort of assessment of students is necessary, not just for the student but for the educator, as well. Some sort of continuity is necessary to compare the abilities, ambition and success of student education. Entry into university and professional schools is dependent on grades and sorting of students.
However, I do agree that letter grades alone are extremely limited in the amount of information they provide about student achievement. Student grades should always be used in conjunction is written comments elaborate on the assessment of student achievement. Moreover, the use of curved grades and normalized grade distributions are patented ridiculous. All students should able to reach an A.
Thanks for Reading,