The A –F grading system has provided a foundation and decided the future of many American children who have gone through the American education system. It is the primary of determining if a student passes or fails their education course right from Grade 1 to the university. The letter grading system has five letters; A is an average score of between 90 and 100, B is between 80 and 89, C is between 70 and 79, D is from 59 to 69, and F is below 59. In the university, however, the letter grades correspond to a quality of 1 to 4. The average of points is usually calculated to provide a grade point average. However, the grading system has had its fair share of criticism despite the overwhelming support it has. The letter grading system should thus be abolished for a better assessment method that is more effective and efficient.
Those who have supported the grading system have pointed to several advantages that have kept it competitive and alive all this while. One of the reasons for maintaining the grading system is that “Grading is deeply ingrained not only in education but in our culture” (Knight and Cooper 65). As much as the letter grading system provides an overall score for all the activities a student undertakes in school, there are scores for individual activities, including extra-curricular activities such as drama.
The individual scores are computed to provide a general average score for the student. This kind of grading, thus, provides a holistic approach to learning and life since it encompasses all the aspects of a student’s study duration. It would only be fair to say that the grading for academic performance should be separated from other activities which are part of the assessment.
However, grades are subjective and do not show learning progress. A student who gets an “A” today and a “C” tomorrow does not understand where they are going or why they are doing it. It is much better to give students not grades for results but for experience points they gain in class and while doing their homework. Each subject, each topic, can be decomposed into separate bits. As students master knowledge, they will see their skills pumped up. Visually, this can be framed by shading these bits. Gonzales, for example, writes that this practice is “much more decent and empowers learners instead of penalizing them for taking time to learn” (para. 2). Conventionally, as in a computer game, the student would have a character with a goal to get somewhere. Therefore, the child would understand that by performing specific educational actions, they get progress.
Nevertheless, the grading system is vital as it helps provide feedback to teachers and parents. Teachers then use the obtained grades to promote or retain students based on the required performance. Knight and Cooper note that “grades can grant admission to colleges or universities” (65).
Parents, on the other hand, use the grades obtained for a different purpose, instilling discipline. Parents then deny their children some privileges based on their performances; the higher the grade, the higher the number of benefits a student will enjoy and vice versa. The authors write that “academic grades have, therefore, been used as a mechanism for managing adolescent behavior” (65). This has now formed the basis of most performances; students pass to enjoy the privileges and not because they want to prepare for a better academic future. However, the race to raise grades to enjoy benefits has led to unethical behaviors such as cheating to help them achieve the desired grades.
The system in which grades assess students’ knowledge is outdated and inadequate to meet modern requirements. Straight A’s do not guarantee a successful career, and their overall importance is overrated. Students get too much unnecessary pressure to improve on poor grades to either get admission to specific universities like Harvard or earn scholarships. A’s do not necessarily improve a student’s talent when they need a sports scholarship. As Potter notes in his online article, “your grades may show your overall performance in classes, but they aren’t necessarily a reflection of how smart you really are” (para. 16). Therefore, a new system should therefore be adopted to help assess other areas of a student’s life.
Despite taking students through the same grading system, some tutors believe it should still be abolished because it hinders students from reaching their maximum potential. Thompson writes that “grading incentivizes students to pursue good marks at the expense of meaningful learning” (3). Additionally, from a survey conducted in one of the universities, it was found that 58% of the students “admitted to plagiarism” (“Plagiarism: Facts & Stats,” para. 3).
In comparison, 95 % of said that they “participated in some form of cheating” to get a better academic record (“Plagiarism: Facts & Stats,” para. 3). These students cheat because of the incentives that come with good grades, such as admission to ‘better universities’ (Anderson 49). The bottom line is that on the fairground, the students who cheated have grades that are not honestly achieved and do not reflect their actual performances. Abolishing the traditional grading system for either a competency-based system or standardized tests is the way forward.
Deviations from ethical behavior and shifts in the conventional norm of academic ethics over time while reinforcing deviant behavioral tactics. This shift gradually compromises the institution of knowledge assessment as a whole, rendering assessment invalid and increasing vulnerability to the usage of manipulative strategies. In addition, the number of participants choosing deviating strategies also increases. This leads to significant damage to most students as “grades define the contours of our educational system” (“3 Reasons Grades Are Bad for Education,” para. 2). Against the backdrop of unethical practices, the status of prestigious universities such as Cambridge or Harvard, which traditionally produce successful and erudite students, is declining in importance.
Though not proven, the faculties might be tempted to increase the grades to avert the impending shame. The teachers would do anything possible in their power to increase school marks at the expense of the students who will be ‘half-baked’ with grades that do not reflect their actual academic performances. In addition, students would feel safe in a classroom where they could admit that they did not understand something, especially since in education, “the only goal is to learn the material” (Spencer, para. 3). However, grades and quizzes cause feelings of fear and make it less likely that students will dare to speak openly about what is troubling them. However, grades and quizzes cause feelings of fear and make it less likely that students will dare to speak openly about what is troubling them.
The traditional grading system has been core to several scholarly achievements in the education sector. It is, however, slowly losing its meaning and value, thus deviating from what it was meant to do. The failure in the grading system can be attributed to the look at numbers and overlooking value and quality. Most of the measures put in place to steer the grading system back to its glory days have failed to do so. Therefore, unethical practices can be seen to crop up to feed the insatiable hunger for good grades that the system has borne. A time has thus come to move on to the next chapter where the valid academic scores will be reflected and the approach to students made from a holistic point of view and not class-based.
“3 Reasons Grades Are Bad for Education.” THNK, 2017. Web.
Anderson, Lorin W. “A critique of grading: Policies, practices, and technical matters.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol. 26, 2018, p. 49.
Knight, Megan, and Robyn Cooper. “Taking on a New Grading System: The Interconnected Effects of Standards-Based Grading on Teaching, Learning, Assessment, and Student Behavior.” NASSP Bulletin, vol. 103, no. 1, 2019, pp. 65-92.
Gonzalez, Alfonso. “Gamification in Grading – XP.” Mr. Gonzalez’s Classroom, 2018. Web.
Potter, Kevin. “5 Facts You Should Know About the U.S. Grading System.” Studyportals, 2021. Web.
Spencer, Kyle. “A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry.” The New York Times, 2017. Web.
Thompson, Evan. “Pros and Cons of Eliminating the Grading System.” TheBestSchools. 2021. Web.