The Way Kids are Graded is Seriously Unfair

Dec 31, 2018

Whether you enjoyed school or didn’t, whether you were a good student or a poor one, there’s one thing that unnerved us all. I’m not talking about bullies or mean teachers but something so basic to getting an education that we can’t imagine what school would be like without it. That practice is grading and you might be surprised to learn that it’s as stressful to teachers as it is to students.

The way we were graded and the process by which most students are evaluated today has its roots in America’s Second Industrial Revolution when schools were expected to prepare students to work in factories. But stressing punctuality and following directions no longer serves today’s students, and in fact can do a fair amount of damage, undermining the trust between students and teachers, stifling students’ motivation, and even encouraging them to copy and cheat. But how can we possibly imagine school without grading and what would take its place?

Here to answer those questions is Joe Feldman, a former teacher, principal, and school administrator who’s worked in both charter and public schools for over twenty years. His new book is Grading for Equity: What It is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms.