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Importance of Grades

By bijz786 Jul 07, 2009 1239 Words
Importance of Grades
Grading and reporting are relatively recent phenomena in education. In fact, prior to 1850, grading and reporting were virtually unknown in schools in the United States. The teacher reported student’s learning progress orally to parents, usually during visits to students' homes. As the number of students increased in the late 1800s, schools began to group students in grade levels according to their age, and new ideas about curriculum and teaching methods were tried. One of these new ideas was the use of formal progress evaluations of students' work, in which teachers wrote down the skills each student had mastered and those on which additional work was needed. This was done primarily for the students' benefit, since they were not permitted to move on to the next level until they demonstrated their mastery of the current one. It was also the earliest example of a narrative report card.

In essence, grading is an exercise in professional judgment on the part of teachers. It involves the collection and evaluation of evidence on students' achievement or performance over a specified period of time, such as nine weeks, an academic semester, or entire school year. Through this process, various types of descriptive information and measures of student’s performance are converted into grades or marks that summarize students' accomplishments. Although some educators distinguish between grades and marks, most consider these terms synonymous. Both imply a set of symbols, words, or numbers that are used to designate different levels of achievement or performance. They might be letter grades such as A, B, C, D, and F; Descriptive words such as Exemplary, Satisfactory, and Needs Improvement; or numerals such as 4, 3, 2, and 1. Reporting is the process by which these judgments are communicated to parents, students, or others.

However, grades do not come easy to some students. College is really a student’s last chance to get good grades and the noteworthy chance for a person to prove himself to the world. Having said that, grades are very important because they determine the length of time you spend getting your degree, the kind of job you receive, and the livelihood of your future.

Continuing to get good grades is a sure way of getting your degree in a timely the working world. Maintaining a 3.0 GPA is characteristic in being considered for the top jobs in today’ s world. Many companies are only looking for the top scholars in their academic field. You will be compensated for the amount of knowledge that you have. Good grades act as the prerequisites of your future. Therefore, it is up to you to expand with hard work, discipline, and the ability to excel. Excellence is the key to success in the 21st Century. Despite such difficulties in understanding the exact meanings of grades and the GPA, they remain important social metrics and sometimes yield heated discussions over issues such as grade inflation. Although grade inflation has many different meanings, it usually is defined by an increase in the absolute number of As and Bs over some period of years. The tacit assumption here seems to be that any continuing increase in the overall percentage of "good grades" or in the overall GPA implies a corresponding decline in academic standards. Although historically there have been periods in which the number of good grades decreased significantly. Social concerns usually only accompany the grade inflation pattern. As discussed in essay “A’s for Everyone.” By Alicia C. Shepard, James Mooney stated "Certainly there are students who are victims of grade inflation in secondary school," said Mooney. "They come to college, and the grading system is much more rigorous. That's one of the most difficult things to convey to the students. If you're getting a B, you're doing well in a course." When college instructors are asked about the reasons for their emphasis on grades, they report that student behaviors - such as arguing over the scoring of a single question - make it necessary for them to maintain strict and well-defined grading standards in their classrooms. What seems missing in this context is a clear recognition by both the instructor and the student that grades are best construed as a type of communication. When grades are thought about in this way, they can be used to improve learning. Only when grades are integrated into a coherent teaching and learning strategy do they serve the purpose of providing useful and {text:bookmark-start} meaningful {text:bookmark-end} feedback not only to the larger culture but to the individual student as well. Few issues have created more controversy among educators than those associated with grading and reporting student learning. Despite the many debates and multitudes of studies, however, prescriptions for best practice remain elusive. Although teachers generally try to develop grading policies that are honest and fair, strong evidence shows that their practices vary widely, even among those who teach at the same grade level within the same school. Letter grades, for example, offer parents and others a brief description of student’s achievement and the adequacy of their performance. But using letter grades requires the abstraction of a great deal of information into a single symbol. In addition, the cut-offs between grades are always arbitrary and difficult to justify. Letter grades also lack the richness of other, more detailed reporting methods such as narratives or standards-based reports. Parents often are left wondering if their child's achievement is comparable with that of other children or in line with the teacher's expectations. Nowadays Parents are more concerned with the grades as mentioned by Alicia Shepard in the essay, “There's a term for the legions of parents like me. The parents who make sure to get the teacher's e-mail and home phone number on Back to School Night. The kind who e-mail teachers when their child fails a quiz. The kind who apply the same determination to making sure their child excels academically that they apply to the professional world. We are called "helicopter parents" because we hover over everything our kids do like Secret Service agents guarding the president.”Most students view high grades as positive recognition of their success, and some work hard to avoid the consequences of low grades. Although educators would undoubtedly prefer that motivation to learn be entirely intrinsic, the existence of grades and other reporting methods are important factors in determining how much effort students put forth.

No single grading method adequately serves all purposes, schools must first identify their primary purpose for grading, and then select or develop the most appropriate approach. This process involves the difficult task of seeking consensus among diverse groups of stakeholders. The issues of grading and reporting on student learning continue to challenge educators. However, more is known at the beginning of the twenty-first century than ever before about the complexities involved and how certain practices can influence teaching and learning. To develop grading and reporting practices that provides quality information about student learning requires clear thinking, careful planning, excellent communication skills, and an overriding concern for the well-being of students. Combining these skills with current knowledge on effective practice will surely result in more efficient and more effective grading and reporting practices.

Shepard, Alicia. “A’s for Everyone.” The Contemporary Reader.9th ed. Ed. Gary Gosggarian.New York: Pearson, 2008.417-422.

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