Do Grades Accurately Measure A Students’ Achievement?

1033 words - 5 pages

The United States grading system for K-12 public schools are used as a measurement for student achievement levels, determining how much a student has learned based on a letter grade. Grades are typically measured a variety of ways, most commonly by way of: tests, participation, homework, quizzes, papers, presentations and group projects. Since grades reflect a variety of ways to measure a student, grades should be an accurate representation of what a student learns. This may seem the case; however, these components do not adequately measure a student’s capabilities.
I plan to argue that the current grading system fails to meet the criteria of a meaningful indicator of student achievement. ...view middle of the document...

A meaningful way of measuring student achievement must instill motivation; grades, however, end up negatively affecting a student’s motivation. Alfie Kohn’s “The Case against Grades” states that “extrinsic motivation, which includes a desire for better marks, not only differs from intrinsic motivation (a desire to learn for its own sake) but often erodes it” (Kohn 30). This quote shows that students who get grades become more concerned with how they will perform, than developing a love for the sake of learning. The grading system takes learning, which is a good thing, and turns learning into a race between students about who can get a better grade.
According to Kohn, the result of grading is that students become less interested in the subject they are learning, and research has shown that students will perform the bare-minimum just to get a good grade (Kohn 29). For example, when students are assigned to pick a book and then write a report on it, they will pick the easiest book possible because they are familiar with it and they do not want to challenge themselves for fear of getting a bad grade (Kohn 29). In that case, grades reverse a student’s motivation to learn and as a result of this students may become unmotivated.
The letter grading system fails to meet my criteria of being able to measure a student’s creativity and academic abilities because it does not do an effective job of evaluating students with disabilities, who are often taught in the same classroom as students without disabilities (Catalano, Gross, Kurth, & Lovinger 41). A teacher may have difficulty between grading an average student in the same classroom as a student with a disability (that negatively affects their educational performance) on an assignment. In some cases, a teacher would not take into account the student’s disability and would grade him the same way as any other student, which would be unfair if it fails to take into consideration the individual student’s abilities.
Catalano writes, “Teachers are often unsure of how to report student grades on report cards as the student’s disability significantly...

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