What Fifth Grade Students Have to Say about Grades

What are grades for? 

“To show how smart you are.”

“To show how hard you worked.”

“So parents can see how their kids are doing.”

“To track your progress.”

“To get good jobs.”

How do you feel about grades?

“I feel good because they tell you what you need to work on so you can get better.”

“I feel confident because I practice most of the time.”

“I hate grades because I will get grounded.”

“Bad because you would have to do it again if it is BG (beginning standard).”

If you could change anything about grades, what would it be?

“I would change BG (beginning standard) because it hurts people’s feelings.”

“I do not want to change.”

“It should go back to A, B, C, D because it is easier to understand for parents.”

“Not take it home so it can be private.”

“How about getting rid of them because it makes me stressed and sad/mad.”

“That our life didn’t depend on grades.”

These responses came from my students this morning after I handed them a survey, called Grades. I decided to give this survey to reflect on my grading practices. You see, our district went to standards-based grading last year, which was not new to me since my former district practiced this for years. But then I stumbled upon this “no-grades” movement on Twitter #TTOG and had a chance to join a chat. Mark Barnes @markbarnes19, who created #TTOG, just came out with a book called Assessment 3.0:Throw Out Your Grade Book and Inspire Learning. After reflecting on the conversations during the Twitter chat and reading my students’ comments this morning, I am really considering joining the “no-grades” movement. I have ordered the book to further educate myself on “no-grades.”

The last student statement resonated with me, “That our life didn’t depend on grades.” What message are we sending our students? Am I sending this message? It should be about the learning, not the grades.


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