We’ve all heard about the effects of COVID-19, but one under-reported aspect of education, even before the pandemic, is grade inflation.
In a recent article, the “consistent push to reduce writing, reading, and note-taking, expand late work windows,” and more was examined. Shane Trotter explores the detriment these practices have on students’ learning. At Gideon, we believe mastery learning gives students the best chance for success later in life. All our curriculum requires a 90% accuracy to pass as we want a solid foundation to be built before moving on. We are thinking about the student’s performance over the next 10 years, in high school and college, not just next week.
A recent study conducted at the Naval Academy showed that students learn less from easy teachers. As the researchers state, “Instructors who tend to give out easier subjective grades… dramatically hurt subsequent student performance.” While a generalization, these claims support the intuitions of anyone who has ever been to school or met a human. When students can give less effort, they do. So, why have schools been moving toward easier grading?
This past year, our students have learned less than ever because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations of virtual learning. How much better might they have fared if they had not been trained to find excuses and expect they’d be passed along?
How much more important is it now to have mastery-reflective grading so that we can diagnose gaps and target them? To suggest that we should grade dishonestly is to fundamentally misunderstand the point of education. It prolongs childhood, ensures less engagement, and reinforces a culture of deferred responsibility. Nothing could be more cruel.