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School grades don’t define students

Students’ intelligence is often measured by their grades, but a smart student can get bad grades and vice versa. Students should be given less formal assessments and should be evaluated on how much they learn, taking self-evaluation into great consideration.

To most motivated students, getting all A’s is more important than actually understanding the material. The pressure to perform outweighs the importance of teaching and learning. Academic achievements are too often measured by a number or letter received as a grade. Students become less interested in learning and more interested in ways to boost up their grade.

Freshman Dylan Waynor speaks for many, saying, “Today, there is too much pressure on children to get good grades.”

In order to take the pressure off of students and their grades, schools should adopt a grading policy that does not allow students to see their grades during the semester, only allowing them to see their grades at its end. They should only be able to see their grades if they got below a C or its equivalent in any course, or if they specifically request to talk about them with a teacher.

For example, Reed College, a less competitive and more collegial school, adopted this policy. They encourage students to measure their achievement by self-assessment and understanding the material.

In the 2017 Ranking of Liberal Arts Colleges, calculated by high school guidance counselors from across the U.S., Reed College was ranked #29 out of 232 schools.

The college is often referred to as “one of the most intellectual colleges in the country”, as stated on the school’s official website, and is “known for its high standards of scholarly practice.”

This grading policy is effective because it takes many things into consideration, not just test scores. Factors apart from intelligence and comprehension can affect test scores. If a student did not eat breakfast or slept too little, they might find it hard to perform on assessments.

Researchers Josean Perez, Julio Montano and Jose Perez found that “several factors other than knowledge have an impact on student performance. These include noise around students taking tests, language capability, student’s mood, whether the student took rest before the test etc.”

The objective of all schools is to teach its pupils. Hence, learning should be the main focus of schools instead of assessing.

Students that do not achieve high marks might understand the material better than anyone, but do not perform well. Just because a student doesn’t perform well on a test, doesn’t automatically mean that he or she does not understand or that he or she is “dumb”.

Freshman Skyler Kapel says, “[Other students] would probably think that [a student] was not as smart as he is [if he received low grades], but if they . . . wanted to help, they would figure out he’s a lot smarter.”

Things like Principal’s List and Honor Roll can make students feel that hard work doesn’t get you anywhere unless you get good results. Awards like Student of the Month are positive because they recognize students who show great effort and participation, along with grades.

If a student is on Honor Roll or Principal’s List, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is the smartest person in the class.

What’s more important: being able to use what is learned in school or coasting into college because of good grades? Is a job interview more likely to favor a fast and efficient learner or a top school graduate?

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