Grades Prove Useless, Confusing to Students

Studies Show Grades are Ineffective

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Lucas Young and Jack Rome

Grades have the capability to convey one’s ability to complete their work; however, they don’t necessarily show how smart you really are but instead calculate one’s knowledge about the topic that a teacher has taught. 

A study conducted by Ellis Page in 1958 showed that students who received letter grades on assignments did considerably worse than those who got individualized feedback on assignments. This study was later confirmed in 1976 by similar studies.

Letter grades are not as important as the actual work you accomplish. Students should prioritize doing their best, rather than only focusing on the grade, and instead try to do their work to the best of their ability. 

Many students unnecessarily stress over their grades. A student who wished to remain anonymous said, “I stay up late doing homework so I can get an A.” Another anonymous student said, “All I focus on is my grade and stuff.” Students care less about learning what they’re being taught so that they can learn, and more about learning it to get a good grade.

According to THINK, grades encourage risk-averse behavior, producing students that are afraid to make mistakes and make them choose less challenging classes, which overall inhibits their potential to grow as a student and learn more. 

A simple grade that reads only “A” or “F” tells a student or their parents nothing about their actual academic abilities, or what exactly they need to change to succeed. In fact, many teachers struggle with what grade to give students, because they don’t know what the grade is actually supposed to represent. 

Furthermore, feedback in general can be skewed by a teacher’s personal thoughts. A teacher’s mood can be different depending on when they grade something, and, particularly for English classes, a teacher who prefers things like essays or stories written a certain way may not like something a student has written on a subjective level. 

When giving students grades, teachers need to remember to give constructive feedback explaining what a student has done well, or could do better rather than focusing on giving them a vague number or letter grade. Through more constructive feedback, and working with students to realize their own abilities, the youth of today can be the best they can be for tomorrow.