Are Grades Useful?

Grades are and at the same time are not useful. Grading is imperfect in multiple ways for determining how students understand a concept. And people can still learn information without necessarily having high grades. It is proven that students that focus on getting good grades or high grades, tend to just learn what is necessary and sometimes fall behind. Grades remain the primary method used by society to determine what you might accomplish in the future. Educated individuals such as Plato, Galileo, Thomas Jefferson, and William Shakespeare were never given grades.

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People agree that there is an expectation of receiving a grade, which creates the fear of failing. Students are prone to choose the path with the least resistance, opting for easy As, which benefits the GPA. But as a society, do we want the students to engage in this type of behavior? This is mediocre? Will this make them educated individuals? It is important to propose ideas in which students can take risks and engage in divergent thinking.

Is this going to be on the test? Is one of the most frequent questions asked by students or is it formative or summative? And those seem like innocent questions, but on a deep level they are worrying. Grades, are intended as an effective means to learn, and they have transformed into a goal in itself. They force the students to memorize details that seem necessary to pass a test. The importance we place on grades within the perimeter of educational facilities does not coincide with the importance companies place on grades. Google’s former Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, says, “GPA scores are worthless as criteria for hiring, they do not predict anything.” Grades technically don’t provide deep and adequate feedback. And grades strongly affect the student-teacher relation. A grade should not only be seen as a measurement tool; the giving and obtaining of a grade also constitutes a relationship. There might be a different interaction with a person that obtained an A or a 4, compared to the one who obtained a C or a 2.

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Grades are a convenient measurement tool that is easy to manage, store, and transmit. When dealing with masses of students, it is justifiable that these factors are decisive.

I do not believe in grades. Grades create an environment that restricts innovation and creativity. They have lost their original purpose, imply failure, and undermine personal relationships. I believe in personalized feedback, the trial and error process that unlocks the true potential of a student, forming a leader.

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