Should Grades Exist?

In the framework of a grading system, educators use lettersor points to assess students’ knowledge. This approach has both advocates and opponents. The latter claim that it is way too rigid, lacks an individualized approach, prevents young people from developing creative abilities, thinking outside the box, freely expressingoriginal ideas and embodying them. 

At the same time, grades are widely used in educational institutions of all levels, an advocates doubt that some worthy substitute may be found. Well-tested, considered as a unified metric of grasping and reciprocating abilities, grades help learners to monitor their progress, compare it with peers’ results and commonly accepted norms. 

There are many types of grading systems: pass/fail, percentage,narrative (comments), norm referencing (when students are compared to each other), mastery grading (young people reach “master”, “passer” and other levels). A letter gradingsystem dividing learners into categories depending on their performance level is particularly popular today. 

Experts from Pro-Papers have described the main pros and some cons of grades in this article. Check them out below. 

Advantages of grades

Convenience

It is hard for learners to keep all their advances and failures in mind. Grades allow them tokeep track of achievements on all disciplines and define areas requiring improvement. Aletter grading systemis used most often because it eliminates the need to compare microscopic differences in marks. Students can join B levelwithout paying attention to a gap between 80 and 84. 

Comprehensive grading pattern

Schools and universities offer many academic activities. It is a natural thing if a student excels in writing but finds it difficult to perform before a class with a report. Nobody can do everything equally well. 

Grades allow to look at a person’s performance from above, sum up intermediary results and receive a general picture of proficiency in a major. All assignments, quizzes, tests, presentations and courseworks influence learners’ academic reputation, which allows systemizing complex and multifaceted educational processes. 

Identifying weaknesses and strengths

If comparing student’s knowledge with a mechanism, grades direct attention to worn-out and defective details. Let’s say some machine was built. When an engineer tries to run it, something is going wrong and a machine is not working. Is it worth reassembling it to eliminate malfunction? It is much more reasonable to find a problem area and correct it instead of wasting energy on useless work. Thanks to grades, learners can study selectively, compile personal curricula and take additional tasks on challenging disciplines. 

Saving time

Without grades, educators will have to communicate with each student to find out which areas one has to improve. It may be rather difficult if there are 30+ people in a class. But if several learners receive D for a control paper, a teacher can prepare assignments for this group instead of working with each person individually. 

Since the advent of technology, assessing students’ knowledge became easier than ever. Tests and exams can be taken on a computer. Learners find out results instantly, while professors do not have to read dozens of papers, can avoid routine and pay more attention to creative aspects of their work. 

Better control

Advocates claim that the more grades a student receives, the easier it is to control one’s academic performance. If taking one pass/fail exam at the end of a semester, a person may have no opportunity to identify all knowledge gaps and eliminate them.

Up to a certain point, it seems that everything is right. Even if a student does not grasp some concepts at lectures, one does not care, believes that there will be enough time to read a textbook and consult a teacher. Over time, new questions arise and overshadow previous ones. As a result, a learner understands that one knows nothing at an exam and fails it.

It is much easier to control the educational process if a person receives intermediary grades. Mistakes may be corrected right away, when knowledge is still fresh.Each new topic may be started knowing that there are no problems withearlier material. 

Objectivity

A general pass/fail exam does not give the full picture of students’ skills and competencies. It often happens that young people receive tricky questions and cannot show their proficiency in other areas of a discipline. Education turns into a card game.Success depends on cards a player receives and not on one’s talents. Grades allow professors to look at student’s capabilities from different angles and make a well-informed decision on whether one has solid knowledge.

Motivation

When there are no rewards, punishments and an exam seems to be a far perspective, learners show indifference and tread the path of least resistance. But their relaxed, pleasant life ends in the last week of a semester when enormous information volumes should be processed and learned. This causes stress, overloading and turns education into torture. If receiving marks for regular tests and assignments, young people stay toned and engaged, always have stimuli to achieve academic heights.

Disadvantages of grades

Although grades bring many benefits, there are also some downsides:

  • Letter grading system which is very popular today is considered as a reason for decreased performance. If a person knows that one should score 90-100% to get A, one will settle for 90% and make no extra efforts to score 100%.
  • A person who scored 100% may be demotivated by the fact that classmates having 90% are also in A group.
  • Grades are just labels that cannot reflect the true meaning of students’ actions and thoughts. Itoften happens that young people consider tasks assigned to them from a usnusual perspective, offer original solutions, but teachers put low marks because a result does not suit their grading criteria. 

These disadvantages do not mean that grades should be abandoned. It is just a field for observations, progress and perfecting the educational system. Professors should ensure that their assessments are objective, comprehensive, effective and help young people to learn in a calm, even pace.

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