The gap in learning, real value of grades

ELLIE EVANS, Assistant News Editor

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Imagine a world where learning was the least of student’s worries and assignments were completed with the sole motivation to expand brain capacity and experience. But searching for the value in learning can become quite troublesome when the scale of grades and learning is ultimately tipped towards grades.
Sure, some students would lose all motivation if grades were eliminated and their desire for learning would dwindle. The reality is that disposing of the grading system all together isn’t necessary or practical, but toning down the pressure of grades is. Maintaining a high GPA that will hopefully please colleges is extremely important for most students, and with that comes the pressure of adjusting to eight different teachers in eight subjects that have eight very different expectations. Even before the practice-process-product grading system was introduced this year, grading systems created anxiety for students and this new system seems to be adding even more.
Assessing student performance is nothing new. According to research done by the National Institute of Health (NIH), the first signs of grading were shown in the early to mid 1800’s. The presence of grades began to increase more into the 1900’s as actual systems of grading were developed as 100 point scales. Since then scales have been adjusted and re-adjusted time and again. In fact, in present day many universities such as Brown University opts out of calculating grade point averages and removing “D’s” from their grading scale, a practice that is becoming more and more popular in both higher education and public school systems.
The NIH also explained that a potential middle ground for the grading crisis could be a way for teachers and professors to give feedback for assignments without the anxiety striking percentage that follows for some. Although some students would lose their drive to learn, those who truly want to be present in the educational world would stand out since the feedback would be the catalyst for learning not the grade.
Being surrounded by hundreds of students everyday it is extremely apparent that the letter a student receives on a test is far more important to them than the content itself. This can explain why some find it necessary to cheat on assignments even though know will ultimately hurt them in the long run.
Suggesting that every student is awarded a gold star and participation ribbon for every single assignment certainly does not solve th problem. However, educators can certainly can help reinforce a student’s understanding about the value of learning by reminding them to take a step back, breath, and put less focus on the number circled in red ink on something labeled product.

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