“The research quite clearly shows that kids who are graded – and have been encouraged to try to improve their grades – tend to lose interest in the learning itself, avoid challenging tasks whenever possible (in order to maximize the chance of getting an A), and think less deeply than kids who aren’t graded,” Kohn explains. “The problem isn’t with how we grade, nor is it limited to students who do especially well or poorly in school; it’s inherent to grading.
“That’s why the best teachers and schools replace grades (and grade-like reports) with narrative reports – qualitative accounts of student performance – or, better yet, conferences with students and parents.”
Already facing a tough decision, my coming across articles like the one above will not make it any easier. At present, I am leaning towards swinging the pendulum back to the center, employing a modified standards-based approach next year instead of going gradeless again. But then I read articles like this, especially with comments like the one above, and I pause. I wonder. Am I on to something here? If I do not see it through and continue along the present course, will I miss an opportunity to truly turn it upside down, to provide a better learning experience for my kids? I don’t know. Questions lead to questions. Answers are elusive. Certainty hides. And I am consumed.
The next 51 days will reveal much. I will have some data to help me my in current quandary. I will have the SBA results. I will have formal feedback from the kids in the form of surveys and reflections. But I will also have my own reflections. And, I will also have my guts, my instincts, which I cannot discount for they helped lead me here in the first place. Admittedly, it has not been a place that all are willing to see or accept, for, in many ways, it runs counter to convention, it smacks of crazy. And I cannot suggest that it is neither conventional nor crazy. It is. But it is not exclusive. Others feel, practice, and share their crazy unconventionality, too. And I cannot ignore that. Can’t. But for all the comfort it brings, it also brings trepidation as I work through the uncertainty of the path ahead. But I’ll find my way. The journey continues. Always does.
Happy Thursday, all.