Why letter grades/percents?

Shared this on Remi’s blog post as a comment. I thought I’d share it here for now, before I expand it into a full blog post on Pairadimes some time (soon). 


Why letter grades/percents? It goes “Beyond TTWWADI” (Google it)!

Fear has a lot to do with it… what will the parents say? What will the admin say?

Well, I actually did it… and in Grade 10 too!

Students got 2 marks (percentages) all semester for Planning 10 in my class. They got a mid-term and a final mark, required on report cards, and I didn’t chose it, they did! They picked a mark and then we discussed it based on conversations, expectations and comparisons with what I thought was exemplary work. In 2 classes of 28 and 29 students, I helped guide a total of 4 or 5 of them up or down a few percents, and beyond that, they picked their own grade… doing a very good job of it I might add!

One interesting anecdote from that experience, I had one class that was almost all IB students where marks really mattered. Anecdotal feedback without marks attached drove them a bit crazy to start… but, one kid at the end of the term, after picking his own mark, told me, “That’s going to be my lowest mark this semester.”
But he wasn’t arguing, he was only making a statement. He knew he could have done better and he also knew he could have done more and earned a better mark, (you see I also allowed students to go back to their digital projects and improve them at any time, because Learning Outcomes don’t come with teacher timelines only semester timelines. He was willing to accept the self-imposed low ‘A’ rather than put more work into it.

So, what’s stopping us from purely anecdotal report card up to Grade 8? The marks are not needed for university… there are no excuses but FEAR and TTWWADI!