June 14, 2022
It’s afternoon, the end of the school day, and faculty are getting ready for a weekly workshop while students scurry out the building. The session that day focused on un-grading—specifically as it relates to formative assessments for learning. The behavior or practice being discussed was whether or not to grade formative assessments and count them towards a student’s score or final grade in a class. Everyone seemed to be on board with the idea that, like in sports, formative assessments are an opportunity for practice, meaning there’s a reason the scoreboard isn’t turned on at that moment. With lots of heads nodding, it all seems to make sense until one courageous, skeptical participant speaks up:
I don’t believe that students will take the work seriously if it’s not for a grade. There’s a reason we’ve never done it this way: It will never work. I can’t motivate a student without grades.
Of course, I had a lot of questions for the vocal participant, but more on…