Grades? What Grades?

Why do we give students grades? Wait, no, that’s not it.  I understand why we give students grades, what I don’t understand is why we use the traditional A through F system. It seems to discourage cooperation, and provide yet another thing for students to make fun of each other over. I believe that we should go to a Pass Fail system, with a few alterations.  I don’t mean that we should get rid of numerical marking.  I think that many people use this correctly.  Numerical marking allows students to see where they are in comparison to the standard.  What I do not agree with is when it is used to see where students are in comparison to others.  A pass, then, should be 60% and higher (perhaps even 70%?).  This way in order to pass you must actually have achieved a level of ability that will allow the students to move to the next level of classes. Grades should be used to help students, not to label them.  Provincial exam marks have taken the place of actual GPA in deciding if someone can attend a particular university, so why bother with them? Perhaps it is in fact to encourage competition.  Maybe people believe that students wont work hard unless there is a grade attached?  I believe that students will always find a way to compete, and that our focus on grades has simply made that the reason for competition.  But in reality we’ll see how my opinion changes as I work in the schools.  Maybe I’ll find the reason for grades.

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