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Unfortunately, the Press Missed the Point


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There was a lot of press regarding the Gradeless Transition at Mayfield Secondary School. Unfortunately, the press missed the point. The focus of many articles and interviews was "negotiated grades", but that is only a small part of the whole thing. The main idea is student motivation and learning - students will learn in a way that is fair, because it is interesting or because they need to know, not for a grade. Grades are the "carrot" and the "stick". We have raised children to fear punishment and crave rewards, but that is not what we should be doing. The lessons we teach are often gone the next day - students have no reason to remember and don't. If students learn because they are interested or find things to be useful, they will retain and use this new knowledge.

There have been countless studies that looked at motivation. Students who receive marks aren't motivated to improve. Pair a mark with a comment and they don't improve. Give them feedback only -- and they improve! So why are we grading everything? When we go to work, do we get 86% for the job we did? I can't wait to see how this works at Mayfield. We will be working with the teachers in the pilot program tomorrow (Grade 9 English, French, Math, Business and Family Studies teachers). I'll let you know how that goes and what our next steps might be!

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