Should Grades Be Eliminated?

September 27, 2017
NICOLAS MCCOMBER—GETTY IMAGES

Some schools are giving letter grades an F. In their place, students will get detailed descriptions of their progress.

Critics argue that grades don’t say much about which skills a student has mastered. After all, grades cover a combination of tests, homework, extra credit, and behavior. That C in math could mean you’re struggling with division, or it could mean you don’t turn in your homework on time.

The answer? Read the teacher’s comments. They can provide more information about the skills a student needs to work on and those at which he or she excels.

But not everyone is sold on grade-free report cards. Some parents don’t like the change. They recognize that an A is good and an F is bad. Teacher comments are not so simple. Plus, some parents and educators worry about students who apply for a scholarship or for entry into a selective school. How will they show proof of their academic achievements?

TFK Kid Reporters weigh in on which system makes sense.

YES

Benje Choucroun, 12

Corte Madera, California

Grades are outdated and cause needless stress for students. As long as grades are around, students will compete for them. But the letters and numbers on report cards send the wrong message. They turn school into a game. The goal becomes getting As and Bs when it should be understanding difficult concepts. What’s more, a bad grade can hurt your confidence. And it doesn’t help you figure out how to improve. Rather than focus on grades, students should pay attention to the teacher’s comments, which will help them do better. Consider this: Grades have been around since the end of the 19th century. Isn’t it time to try something new?

NO

Gabrielle Hurd, 10

St. Louis, Missouri

Grades allow parents to track their kid’s progress in school subjects over the course of a year. A parent can see the improvement from a C in math on an early report card to a B on the last one. A grade of C lets parents know their child needs extra support. An A, on the other hand, shows skill. Without letter or number grades, parents would have to rely on teacher comments to determine how their child is doing. The comments might not be as clear-cut as a grade. There’s another problem, too. Let’s say your child wants to apply to a middle school or high school that requires top grades. Teacher comments may help. But the school may still want to see grades on a report card for added assurance.