We are heading into the parent conference season soon. I recently ran across this post I read a while ago. I thought the picture was worth, dare I say it, a thousand words…OK, well maybe that doesn’t work, since the picture actually has words, so never mind.


What I liked about the picture of a chart, AKA a chart, was that it helps me think in a new way. It helps me reframe my thoughts with a different way to look at grades and assessing my students. And I think it could help some of our kids in seeing the  purpose of grading/assessing.

Full disclosure: I am a math guy and a realist. So, thinking in a different way about grades, practically speaking, makes me 1) a little uncomfortable and 2) question its longevity. Here’s what I mean.

Uncomfortable. If I score a 90% on a test, that is an A. That makes sense. You have a percent…a grade..ta da! To change that to our 1-4 categories doesn’t jive as much. The idea of a continuum makes it seem a little less concrete. Plus, we still live in a world where we have numbers; we have grades; we have rankings…Think of sports or movies or music without charts, awards, trophies, financial bottom lines, etc. Which brings me to my next thought.

Longevity. While I can appreciate the idea of teaching kids that what they learn is on a continuum, I don’t know if we can neglect our “cold hard facts of percents and grades. Why? Because…reality. Yes, many companies and businesses are starting to change some of the expectations for a good employee (And I DO think many of these things are positive), much of life deals with awards, trophies, bottom lines.

Sure, we can give everybody an award/trophy, but life will not. Some people will still come in first and it is good to celebrate excellence. Some people will come in last and it is good to teach our students how to lose/fail well (sounds weird, I know) and how to grow from that. I think this is where the chart’s value comes in, BTW.


What next?  I think we can’t just follow the pendulum from traditional grades to a continuum because the pendulum keeps moving and life is not always and either/or but a both/and.

We would serve our children well to consider and help kids know about the positives of both. Basically…keep the discussion going. Here is the link to the blog post I got the chart from.

What are your thoughts?