What Are Grades For Anyway?
|The Ateneo Junior Summer School, Class of 1980|
The individual circled on the second row is Philippines senator Koko Pimentel.
It was one summer without grades, but it was one class that definitely did not lack motivation. We had assessments. We received feedback, but most of all, we established relationships.
During this time, it is a lot easier to see that our schools are so much more than just a place for academics. Schools are clearly social settings where relationships are both created and nurtured. This is clearly one item that online education finds very difficult to imitate. Yet, we are equally worried about grades. Is it because we want to compare? Grades, after all, are used for making decisions with regard to admission to certain programs and scholarships.
Right now, we are given a clear opportunity to reflect on what grades mean. The Fairfax county public school system just managed to send learning packets last Friday on lessons meant for the Monday of that week. Some children have parents who have the time and expertise to coach their children during these times. How about those parents who are still working in essential sectors such as groceries, gas stations, and hospitals? Are we then grading children according to their parent's availability, according to their parent's educational attainment, or worse, according to how well a school district can deliver learning packets? Because if we do, there are certainly a lot of "F's" to give. These grades do not mean what we think they do. And this is true not only during this pandemic, but has been true all along. That is why there is a poverty achievement gap. That is why there is a race achievement gap. That is why grades should not really mean much. Perhaps, we will learn this time.