Going Gradeless

I’ve written and presented on assessment many times in the past 2 decades. The trend in education is clear: Most people, if not all, believe grades are a poor representation of learning and yet many can’t figure out how to either de-emphasize or get rid of them entirely. My current grading gig is with Wilkes University. I play the game but I’m clear with my students from the onset I don’t value them at all. To that end, I’ve shifted to full-on self-assessment. Unless someone is completely delusional, whatever grade they justify, they get. I’m not interested in quibbling over a few points here. As graduate students, I’ve yet to find any that are delusional. To that end, my course and I believe any teaching comes down to 3 questions:

What do I know now I didn’t know before?

What can I do now I couldn’t do before?

Why does it matter?

That’s it. For the most part, grades have not been an issue in my teaching. Yet I know so many still struggle not so much from a philosophical perspective but a practical one. I can’t speak to all the barriers that exist so here are several schools and districts who are making this shift. I promised to share them so here they are:

I would be remiss if I didn’t add the great work from our late colleague Joe Bower who championed the gradeless classroom.