Since kindergarten, many students are encouraged to get good academic grades. From having “Good Job” inked on the back of their hands using rubber stamps to a “100%” written on top of their paper, grades govern much of a student’s life.
But as nearly every parent and student know, letter and number grades affect more than academic careers. They can affect the emotional, mental, and physical state of the student. Poor grades or performance can also affect the career outcomes of a student.
Reduced Interest in Learning
Studies have suggested that the letter grade system reduces a student’s interest in further education. Lower grades can demotivate a student from studying further. Negative grades may also get students to focus on achieving academic goals rather than think or learn how to think.
High-performing students may not have the critical thinking skills necessary for higher education. A’s and 100%s also do not correlate with high intelligence. Retaining information for exams and essays is not the same as absorbing the information students read for school.
Testing is still an international metric for academics, but some countries developed their own approach for it. Students in Finland, for example, test less while some schools in Melbourne allow students to specialize their curriculum according to their goals.
Poor Indicator of Progress
Educational achievements can be communicated through grades, but they do not give the full picture of a child’s academic progress. Often, it doesn’t reflect the holistic progress of a child, and unless they excel in sports, their progress in other aspects of education are not reported on. A dynamic produced by this system is academically-sound but socially awkward students and grade-poor but activity-rich kids.
An organization said grades should not be synonymous with a full assessment of a student’s achievements. Letter grades can mean little if a student is set on a trade or non-academic career. They can also mean little if a child does not develop the soft skills that universities look for in applicants.
A holistic, individualized feedback system that decouples grades from personal achievements can improve the performance and outlook of students.
Teachers are also Affected
Teaching is a two-way spectrum. Teaching for improved grades affects teachers the same way it affects students. Some teachers are forced to teach a singular way to improve the grades of their students on state exams that affect the reputation and funding of their school district. This may discourage teachers from actually inculcating knowledge to their students in ways that will help them absorb the information.
Educators are also robbed of time from lesson and activity planning by the constant need to grade their students. Without other forms of assessing a kid’s academic progress, teachers may be discouraged or prevented from tailoring a unique educational experience for students who need it the most.
Fortunately, there are professional development programs that teach educators how to handle their responsibilities efficiently. Grants also lessen the economical burden of further education, the benefits from which can be conferred to students through updated lessons.
What can supersede the effects of grading is parental participation in a student’s academic career. Parents who devote time and resources into their children’s education help improve their literacy and general academic performance. State and school can help parents get involved in their kids’ schooling. By giving a child a wide safety net, letter and grade performance would not be the sole determinant of a kid’s success as a student.