Abolishing Grading
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Abolishing Grading

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

22 Comments
  • Pingback:Tweets that mention Abolishing Grading | Ecology of Education -- Topsy.com
    Posted at 12:28h, 11 May Reply

    […] 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 […]

  • Neil Stephenson
    Posted at 21:35h, 11 May Reply

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

  • Chad Sansing
    Posted at 22:38h, 11 May Reply

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

  • Paul W. Hankins
    Posted at 22:41h, 11 May Reply

    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 …

  • Tom Whitby
    Posted at 00:31h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Jacques Cool
    Posted at 00:49h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Mary Beth Hertz
    Posted at 03:37h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 13:22h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Patrick Larkin
    Posted at 13:29h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Pingback:Abolishing grades: a pipe-dream that could come true (?) | |||| | INSIDE A(DJUNCT)CADEMIA || ||| | ||||
    Posted at 14:56h, 12 May Reply

    […] the meantime, check out this series of posts on abolishing grades in education. While this applies more to secondary ed than higher ed, I’ve often (fruitlessly) toyed with […]

  • Tony Baldasaro
    Posted at 15:54h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Leah MacVie
    Posted at 16:19h, 12 May Reply

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

  • Hifi1
    Posted at 21:27h, 12 May Reply

    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.

  • Theresa McGee
    Posted at 23:43h, 12 May Reply

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

  • joebower
    Posted at 19:56h, 13 May Reply

    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.

  • Jerry Blumengarten
    Posted at 00:34h, 14 May Reply

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

  • Sunn Thunders
    Posted at 00:40h, 14 May Reply

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

  • davidwees
    Posted at 01:06h, 14 May Reply

    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

    • ashton
      Posted at 15:18h, 08 February

      would sound a little crazy

  • Pingback:NY Times Op-Ed: Crocodile Tears From Liberal Peers Over True … | Educational Maine
    Posted at 10:17h, 17 May Reply

    […] Abolishing Grading […]

  • ashton
    Posted at 15:18h, 08 February Reply

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

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