For years, students have received letter grades assessing the material they have learned throughout the year. In theory, each letter grade indicates the amount of knowledge learned. (I think it goes without saying that it’s a flawed system that is deeply rooted within our educational system.) However, at some point in the past 5 – 10 years the grading paradigm has shifted greatly. From my own personal observations, the A no longer represents excellence or the ability to relate learned material to real world experiences or even in other classes. An A is the only option for many students. If they don’t receive an A the first time around then they don’t try again, many just move on. Students believe they have failed to “master” the content.
The A has lost its spark. The A has lost its spunk. The A has lost that little something extra that makes every student proud of their work. Instead, when a student doesn’t receive an A on an assignment or a final grade, they feel as if they have failed. How did this happen? When did students start to feel that the A meant average or was expected?
I blame us…the teachers. Not the students, not the parents, not the system, but the teachers. And I don’t think we can get the A back to how it used to be. In my opinion, the reason so many people are calling for a new assessment system other than grades is due to the fact that the A has lost its charm. Failing is perceived negatively instead of a way for students to learn and grow, which in turn has made the A the ONLY other option for students. Forget D through B, those are still failing grades in many students eyes. Why did this happen? What’s the solution? Do letter grades work?