Lauren Klein Mrs. Imani Stephen ENG 1101 23 October 2012 The Importance of Grades in School Alfie Kohn explains in his article, From Degrading to De-grading, that traditional letter/number grades are a waste of time. Kohn believes teachers wrongly relish the moments they get to assign a student a grade. His opinion of the best teacher is the one that despises the grade book and wonders about the thought of giving grades at all. Alfie Kohn provides many reasons supporting his beliefs. For example, grades reduce the student’s interest to learn the material and reduce their preference for a challenge.
When grades are in the picture, the student’s quality of thinking is diminished. It is also argued that grades are unreliable, not valid, and have the ability to distort the curriculum. He believes grades waste time that could be spent on learning more material and concepts. Students are also more susceptible to cheating if they feel the pressure to have good grades. Lastly, the student’s relationship with the teacher and other students could be negatively affected by the stress of grades (Kohn). However, traditional grading is essential to track the student’s progress, give them a sense of competition, and be accepted into colleges.
Kohn goes on to point out common objections to the no-grades system. Schools are afraid of the major changes that would be required to implement the unheard of policy (Kohn). The article points out that grades could encourage cheating. Students feel pressure to get good grades and in return cheat on homework and tests to uphold that expectation. Also, the amount of time that teachers spend on grading and the time that students spend on stressing about grades, could be spent on learning more information. Kohn mentions the problem of laziness and the attitude of doing just enough to get an “A. He blames this problem on the presence of grades, but laziness is actually based on the individual and his own work ethic, as well as the schooling system itself, not the system by which performance is measured. A change in evaluation can’t necessarily change an individual’s personal outlook. It’s the individual schools and teachers that are responsible for setting a solid grading system. It isn’t the grading system that is at fault here. He also ridicules the grading system for being a “subjective rating masquerading as an objective evaluation” (Kohn).
However, subjectivity is a natural trait in the education system. Every individual teacher has a different way of thinking and different standards. The grading system can at least provide a more universal way to evaluate individual students. Grades also present parents a means of accountability with their student. The author says that bad grades bring about “unpleasant conversations” between parents and students (Kohn). Still, the same would result with any other system, because parents will always have to be informed if their child is performing poorly.
I believe traditional grading is still necessary in schools. Without the letter/number grading, there would be no way to track the student’s progress. Even though a bad grade could be daunting, the plain numbers help students in the long run by encouraging hard work and progression. When students achieve a good grade, they have the experience of feeling accomplished. This feeling gives them the objective to do well in school. Good grades give the student a sense of accomplishment contributing to their self-esteem. Higher grades become important and the student becomes motivated.
If the incentive of grades is taken away, the student could lose that motivation and even the aspiration to advance (Farzaneh). Grades provide a sense of competitiveness. Healthy competition between peers is necessary to excel in life. The natural feeling of pride over good grades contributes to having competition with classmates or coworkers. Schools with grades allow students to develop their competitive ways early, so they can succeed in the workplace (Adams). Many students depend on their grades to assess themselves and see where they can improve. Grades evaluate their success and help them enhance their performance skills (Farzaneh).
Grades are a necessary part of applying to college. Not having grades makes it harder to have colleges consider you, let alone accept you. The admissions faculty has a lot to consider with each student. Generally they only look at GPAs and SAT scores (Adams). Only a select few schools are open to this new no grading idea. This makes it very difficult to get into certain colleges if there are no numbers for them to glance at. Detailed accounts of each student are not a practical way for college admissions to determine if they are the best fit for the student.
Furthermore, without the clearly defined standard, colleges could overflow with under qualified students making a college degree less valuable. A traditional grading system benefits the students by helping them be more successful in school and future careers. It offers a worldwide rubric to determine and compare the student’s progress with ease. Receiving good grades in return for hard work provides the student with intellectual knowledge on how to improve and teaches them how to deal with competition and overcome it. Grades affect a student emotionally in many ways, including giving them a sense of self-worth.
Also, the absence of grades makes it more difficult to be noticed and accepted by colleges. Traditional grading is necessary as it influences students and motivates them to not only succeed, but to excel in life. Works Cited Adams, Carol. “The Disadvantages of School Without Academic Grades. ” EHow. Demand Media, 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. . Farzaneh, Arash. “The Disadvantages of School Without Grades. ” EHow. Demand Media, 02 Feb. 2011. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. . Kohn, Alfie. “From Degrading to De-Grading. ” From Degrading to De-Grading. Alfie Kohn, Mar. 1999. Web. 16 Oct. 2012. .