Abolishing Grading | Ecology of Education

Abolishing Grading

In 2005, I damn near quit teaching.

I was disgusted by so much of what traditional school does to people. I was tired of assigning homework and then nagging kids to do it – and even when they did do it, they simply went through the motions, hating every minute of it.

I was tired of grading stuff – spending hours providing helpful comments, only to watch them look at their own grade and then their neighbors – leaving the assignment on the floor, the comments unread.

But rather than pulling the plug on what would have been a very short teaching career, I decided to change. I began my own little ‘teaching revolution’.

I read and researched.

I unlearned.

I remade myself.

For five years, I have abolished grading from my classroom. Yes, I have to give a mark on the report card, but that’s it.

And here is what I have to share with you. Here are a series of blog posts that attempt to summarize my five year experiment with abolishing grades.

I hope you can take something from these posts and be bold and couragous enough to provide yourself and your students the opportunity to experience learning as it should – gradeless and for the love of learning.

 No Good Reason to Grade – here’s why there really is no good reason to grade

 Museum of Education – here’s why we need to abolish grading

 The Folly of Rubrics and Grades – here’s why rubrics and grades are so subjective and ultimately don’t measure up to the task.

 What leads to success? – here’s how grades are at best unhelpful and at worst harmful towards our ultimate goals for children.

 Abolishing Grading Video – character education and collaboration – here is a 5 minute video on how grading sabotages the best kinds of character education and collaboration

 Grading Effort: Unintended Consequences – here’s why we shouldn’t grade effort.

 Grades are artifically sabotaging one kid at a time… – here’s how grading sabotages learning.

 Destructive Grading Schemes – here’s more on how grading sabotages learning

Grades & Risk Aversion – here’s even more on  how grading sabotages learning

 End Grading’s Reign of Extrinsic Terror – here’s how grading sabotages motivation

 Grades are Distracting – here’s an example of how grading can distract us from real learning.

 Information vs Reward and Punishment – Jerome Bruner and John Wooden both agree, rewards and punishment must go. Because grades are a judgement, they serve no real purpose in learning.

 Pink, Godin, Kohn and asymptotes – Grades get learning wrong because they are linear but learning is an asymptote.

 Replacing Grading – here’s how I replaced grading even though I still have to place a grade on the report card.

 Assessment Malpractice – here’s a brief summary of the two kinds of assessment: formative and summative.

 Fears of Abolishing Grading – here’s what scares us

 Detoxing students from grade use – if you chose to abolish grades, here’s how students may react. 6 steps based on my 5 year study.

 No Grades and Group work – here’s a true story how having no grades can make group a beautiful thing.

I blog everyday about topics like this at www.joebower.org

21 Responses to “Abolishing Grading”

  1. May 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    Abolishing Grading | Ecology of Education http://bit.ly/ahDIwc

  2. May 11, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    definitive @joe_bower reader at Ecology of Ed http://bit.ly/9mHhqA; Joe's work is a must read 4 #edreform, #edchat, #SBAR & #abolishgrades

  3. May 11, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    RT @chadsansing: definitive @joe_bower reader at Ecology of Ed http://bit.ly/9mHhqA; Joe's work is a must read 4 #edreform, #edchat, #SB …

  4. May 12, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    RT @r_o_y_a_n: @taniasterling @digitalnative What a great blogpost! http://bit.ly/ahDIwc #edchat

  5. May 12, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    via @tomwhitby: Great post by Joe Bower. Abolishing grading. http://bit.ly/ahDIwc

  6. May 12, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    Abolishing Grading. Great post by @joe_bower http://bit.ly/dhrfQy

  7. May 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Have misgivings about grades? Check out @joe_bower 's handy dandy guide to abolishing grades http://bit.ly/dhrfQy #edreform #edchat

  8. May 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    RT @JasonFlom: Have misgivings about grades? Check out @joe_bower 's handy dandy guide to abolishing grades http://bit.ly/dhrfQy #edchat

  9. May 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    RT @bhsprincipal: RT @JasonFlom: Have misgivings abt grades? Check out @joe_bower 's guide 2 abolishing grades http://bit.ly/dhrfQy #edchat

  10. May 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    RT @baldy7: RT @bhsprincipal: RT @JasonFlom: Have misgivings abt grades? Check out @joe_bower 's guide 2 abolishing grades http://bit.ly/dhrfQy #edchat

  11. Hifi1
    May 12, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    It's not only the kids who find school hard who become unmotivated. School was easy for me. I learned how to test and after that paid little attention to the actual learning that was being attempted.

    After dropping out for a few years after my first semester of college (because it seemed pointless – I didn't even attend class once I realized the teacher was testing the book), I got interested in a subject at community college. I had the great fortune to then transfer to UCSC, which at the time had a pass/fail system. Neither teacher or students needed to worry about grades, so the classroom activities and assignments were all about exploring the subject matter.

    I think how my whole life would have been different if grade school had been the same – what I could have accomplished!

    Keep up the revolution.

    P.S., Too bad all your readers can only think about this in ADD Twitter time. It could well be another symptom of superficial engagement with things at school that do actually matter – but only in the details.

  12. May 12, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    Someone said what I've been thinking! RT @tomwhitby What a great blogpost! http://bit.ly/ahDIwc #edchat

  13. joebower
    May 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    I hear what you are saying. It can be more than a little sad to think back on the wasted learning opportunities we had experienced because of extrinsic motivators such as grades, rewards and punishments.

    Also, don't be to angy at Twitter. Without Twitter, FAR FEWER people would ever be exposed to this kind of message. Twitter has issues, but it is exceedingly useful at getting the word out.

  14. May 14, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    RT @MikeGwaltney: Abolish Grading. May sound crazy, but you should try it before you knock it. Thanks Joe. http://bit.ly/as6MKp

  15. May 14, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    RT @cybraryman1 @MikeGwaltney: Abolish Grading. May sound crazy, but you should try it before you knock it. http://bit.ly/as6MKp

  16. May 14, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    RT @MikeGwaltney: Abolish Grading. May sound crazy, but you should try it before you knock it. Thanks Joe. http://bit.ly/as6MKp #education #edchat #edtech

    • February 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

      would sound a little crazy

  17. February 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

    twitter has a problem it would be good to use in schools though

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Abolishing Grading | Ecology of Education -- Topsy.com - May 11, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joe Bower, Cameron Campos and Cameron Campos, Joe Bower. Joe Bower said: Abolishing Grading – here is a summary of a 5 year experiment – http://bit.ly/9EaHNW #education #edreform #edchat #teacher #grading #change […]

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