No Grades, No Tests

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ku_alum, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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  3. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    I would take it up with administration, who would hopefully inform the parent of the school's, and district's, grading policies.

    I feel that while every child is unique and special, parents have to remember that their child is not the first kindergartener in the history of the world, ever. If the parent can't handle a system that actually "grades" a child (and I believe it's the parent who is affected, not the kid, by a letter grade) then he should homeschool or find a private or charter school that meets his philosophy.
     
  4. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    My first reaction- to be honest- was annoyance. Parents- at my old school at least- loved to dictate how I did everything in my classroom- what topics were covered, how I taught lessons, what homework and how much was okay, grades/comments, etc. Plus this would mean I would have to figure out how to comment on a child's progress that was not the norm at my school- I do not have the time to come up with a special way to grade each child based on the wants of the parents.

    Then I realized- after reading some of the comments- that the request really wasn't all that far from what I do already do in my classroom. I do not think my current school would keep us from having a grade- as a private school we need that information in case the child applies to different schools or needs to be counseled out. We don't have to write a letter grade on the report card that gets sent out- but letter grades are common "teacher language".

    I learn towards using rubrics when ever I can- which have clear statements of "I did this..." on them and I write comments on the rubrics on areas that the child can improve and how they can improve. It's incredibly time consuming and I cannot do it for every assignment (plus teach 8 classes), but it's a good way to show a child's progress.

    My report card also has a spot to put a letter grade in, but then I can comment with numbers on how well students are accomplishing various skills and content areas within my subject. Thankfully we're allowed to change our report cards every school year as we'd like to :)

    The only thing I would still like to see is that the parent is willing to understand why the teacher might not allow for that request and to be respectful of the teacher's choice.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree: it sounds like this is a family who would benefit from homeschooling.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    This sounds a bit like where grading is headed in my district with the common core. We are slowly transitioning to a common core report card (not sure what it will look like yet), but students will still receive some kind of score (grade) for each standard.
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Yeah, I can't see that actually flying anywhere in public education. Grades are required to pass to the next grade-how would you have record that the child was passing?

    I am a true creativity advocate and I honestly don't mind grading in Kinder-we use 1,2,3's and all it does is show whether or not there was mastery of the objective. We use a lot of summative assessments as well, but there needs to be some kind of standard. While I agree parents can tell if their child is learning-the what and how much is clearly expressed through the grading process.
     
  8. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    My first thought was that they would be better off homeschooling, as well.

    My second thought was extreme annoyance. If I sent parents letters detailing how they should raise or discipline or reward their kids, there would be serious fireworks, and at best, I'd have a letter of reprimand in my file. So why should a parent feel free to send me a letter detailing how to run my classroom - especially on a district-required component?

    On another note, I have had a parent tell me that they don't believe in punishments, such as silent lunch or detention and therefor, their child would not participate when I assigned one. That one, fortunately, was handled by the admin.
     
  9. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I would take the letter to my principal.

    In today's times with all of our focus on testing, how can you avoid grades?
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    If I received a note like that, I would pass it off to my principal!
    I have to follow the guidelines that the district gives me, regardless of my beliefs.

    Besides, no matter how much the parent believes in formative assessments, they will still have to take a standardized test during the 3-12 school years.

    I agree that they would be better off homeschooling or finding a private school.
     
  11. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    kpa and I must have crossed post. We obviously think alike!
     
  12. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I get what this guy is saying. There is something seriously flawed about the way some educators grade. We talk about standards, but there aren't a lot of standards for evaluation. An "a" in one class often does not mean the same in another, even if the teachers are from the same campus and grade level. I've seen teachers use grades as weapons and rewards rather than honest evaluations. This is especially problematic in the liberal arts courses where grades are naturally subjective. Rubrics certainly help, but I've seen many of those that are also so subjective that a teacher could easily interject personal bias.

    I get the need for assessment and evaluation, but I do see that our grading system has been abused and corrupted to the point that in many classrooms, it's ineffective.
     
  13. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    I posted a comment on the post.

    The parent in me says "Heck yeah!" It is the reason we choose Montessori.

    The teacher in my bows my head down and says "Oh lawd. Another difficult parent" just in his tone.
     
  14. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    I read the article and comments, and can't help thinking that such an idea would work great: in fantasy world. Sure, SOME schools could get away with abolishing grades, and the kids would learn for the love of learning (or we could try to instill that anyway).

    But at the secondary level (where I work), in my building, this would be impossible. I teach in a school that is over 60% low income, and learning is simply NOT a priority for many of my students. If I told my kids that I wasn't going to assign letter grades/numbers anymore, more than half would stop doing all work. I promise you it wouldn't matter how much of my logic and reasoning about "the case against grades" I provide them, they would see no direct benefit, and would quit doing assignments.

    Unless there is some solution to that at the secondary level that I'm simply not seeing or aware of?
     
  15. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    If the parents feel that strongly they need to find a school that meets their needs or homeschool. If they're against grading and tests I have a feeling they would have issues with other practices in public schools. If you don't like something a school is doing and you're against it, why are you sending your child there? You can't just go in a school and expect it to be run the way that you want.
     
  16. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    There's a group of parents in NYC, in mostly Brooklyn I believe that boycotted state tests last year, by not sending their children to school on any of the testing or testing make up days. I believe their biggest qualm was with the fact that their were so many field test (not scored) questions on the test. I have a huge problem with the field test questions too, but that's beside the point. I totally see what they were trying to do, but they almost had the potential to some damage to the schools their children go to because of their actions. It's not the school's fault! If it were up to the school I'm sure they'd throw out those stupid field test questions too.
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sigh...

    I get it. I do. And maybe one day I'll open my own charter school or something, and for sure my grading system has moved to be less about the grade and more about growth. But it's rather amusing this person believes he can totally dictate how a classroom operates for his daughter.

    I would contact my adminstrator immediately.
     
  18. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I think the author of the letter is a teacher ... he knows how schools work.
     
  19. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    I appreciate certain points the parent has; however, does he plan on calling the State Department and telling them his daughter won't be taking the state test?

    Beth
     
  20. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    I think that this "no grades" thing is an extension of "every child is a winner." Some students are motivated by poor grades. They see their performance slipping and want to improve. Others could care less about poor grades, so an F does not damage their self esteem in the slightest. Protecting children from the horror of "being graded" is, in my opinion, silly. Perhaps their parents will be contacting their future employers asking they not be evaluated based on performance there, either.
     
  21. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I was thinking that too-or when they get to college, the professors I'm sure would be ok with that too. That child is going to be very unprepared for what lies ahead if they have never been evaluated.

    I also understand the theory and yes, grading systems are inconsistent (even in the same schools/grade levels). But I think it's very idealistic to think a school is going to just exempt a student from grades because the parent requested it.
     
  22. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    :yeahthat:

    It also is an extension of absolving responsibility.... Parents don't have to parent. Students don't have to actually study. Therefore: We ALL get into college! :lol:
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Then he should know better.

    Think about it. It's not as simple as just not putting a grade on her papers. How many of us are required to give tests similar in design to the state tests? My tests had to contain multiple choice and the results had to presented as NAPD with number grades. It would essentially mean creating entirely new assessments for this one student. You couldn't, even if you wanted to, switch to a gradeless system...at least I couldn't have done that. Out. Of. The. Question. But let's pretend our administration did support this for the entire class. The teacher's workload would increase dramatically because it does take longer to give written feedback. Of course it's helpful for many students, but still... That is part of the deal with public education: it's "free", but not necessarily perfect for your child. For it to be perfect, each teacher would need shorter rosters, an assistant, and better compensation.
     
  24. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I actually posted a response and, although the original writer's response back to me was polite and well-written, I don't think he gets it. Maybe education is vastly different in Canada. The kind of thing he is suggesting would never fly here!
     
  25. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I would ask if they will buy her a new bubble every year to live in or if they will just buy a really big one to start with.
     
  26. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Many things are different here--most particularly in the emphasis placed on standardized testing--but this idea would certainly cause many of the same concerns here. Our concerns wouldn't be related to how the students would fare on state tests, but I would have concerns none-the-less. We have an emphasis on formative assessment, with the goal of improving student achievement, but we are expected to give summative assessment and do need to provide a "grade" in the end.

    Just from a practical standpoint, as the child progresses through school, I wonder about post-secondary education--acceptance is completely grade driven.
     
  27. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    He is talking about his kid in KINDERGARTEN, for goodness sake. Not middle school and not high school. He isn't saying he never wants her to be graded.There is a HUGE case to be made for a child not be assessed with grades in kindergarten.

    That said, it is at this early age that I believe we crush the spirit and intrinsic love of learning that children have and turn them in to to factory numbers pumped out of public education. I agree with him! By the time they get to middle school, they never remember that first day walking in to kindergarten so ready to absorb knowledge. We crush it out of them with testing and test prep. It is the very reason the rest of us wrestle with an apathetic secondary student. They have always been moved by extrinsic motivation because starting in kindy they were forced to learn to pass tests instead of learn out of curiosity or natural love of learning.
     
  28. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    No, he said he was going to send it to ALL of his daughter's teachers. She's starting kindergarten, but hopefully she'll end up in high school.
     
  29. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Did he say he never wanted for her to be graded? I didn't pick up on that...
     
  30. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    We have a charter school nearby that does this - all written evaluations and no grades. It is supposed to be a school that develops higher thinking and creative learning in all the students.

    Students must leave this school and go to a traditional high school. Every.single.one (that I've taught) has a very hard time with the transition. Most of them get at least one D or F their first year. They do not know how to learn in a normal setting. They cannot think on their own and they cannot start an assignment with standard instructions.

    When reading their transcripts from the other school they read something like this: Johnny socializes well with his peers. He would benefit from more experience with reading. Johnny is an excellent soccer player!

    Sandwich method all the way - with the only negatives pertaining to academics, seldom are the positives. Totally useless to the school he is joining.
     
  31. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    This is a quote:

    "I have an acute understanding for how grading sabotages learning. Because of this, I have drafted this letter for my daughter's future teachers."

    I made the assumption that since he believes grades sabotage learning and he used the plural teachers, he was going to send it to all of them. He may have only meant kindergarten and first grade. Reading his entire statement though, I doubt it.

    But, I doubt he actually sent it too. That would be a foolish thing to do, IMO.
     
  32. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    I used to work in a school that did exactly this. No grades, no tests, no textbooks. The report cards were all written evaluations, which took hours to write. All these kids did take tests to get into high school and they all had no trouble adjusting to a regular high schools and college.

    While I don't think it would work for all schools, it was refreshing to see teachers being able to teach without all the restrictions.
     
  33. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    This particular teacher is from Alberta, he has worked towards a no-grade system in his own classes in high school, and so he has seen it work.

    I understand that many people are very stuck on the fact that grades are helpful, but grades mean a whole lot less than actual information, such as what does the student struggle with? What areas continue to require work? A C in Calculus means absolutely nothing... why did he get that C? Because he doesn't understand limits? derivatives? integrals? maybe it's the quotient rule? trigonometric functions? That C is absolutely meaningless, compared to actual information, which is what Joe Bower advocates.
     
  34. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Again, just to be clear where I stand, I fully recognize the weaknesses in traditonal grading...which is why I transitioned to a different system. But it's ridiculous, in my opinion, for a parent to feel he can determine something important in his daughter's classroom when so often not even the teacher has such authority.
     
  35. teresateaches

    teresateaches Companion

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    So, is the problem with the school he came from or the traditional school? In my personal opinion, it is the problem of the traditional school. Is it Johnny struggling or the traditional school failing to meet his needs? :whistle:

    But really, why are we so stuck on this traditional method as the correct one? I teach in this system, yes. I do as much as possible to teach in a way that is beneficial to my students. Are there certain mandates I must follow? Sure, but I stick as close as possible to those mandates and don't enforce them any further than I must.

    I'm sure many of you have seen this, but I truly believe the problem is our current educational system (that big bureaucracy that looms over all of us). I think his letter is a grand ideal.

    http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U
    Like you, I doubt he sent it and agree that a parent feeling he can under mind the teacher an overthrow her authority or more so, the states, with a simple letter.

    He would be better fighting it differently.

    I can't help but think the letter was just for the blog and less for sending. I can't imagine, himself as a former teacher, would ever dare send that to a teacher.
     
  36. Math

    Math Cohort

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    :yeahthat:
     
  37. 2ndTimeAround

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    Unless you're going to overhaul an entire system, including colleges, worldwide, you need to find a way to transition students from a no-grade to grade system.

    I also doubt that the father in question has 200 students a year to assess. If he does, I doubt he provides this type of feedback every week like parents in our system expect.
     

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