Last week the LA Times reported that, facing soaring rates of D’s and F’s, more schools are simply doing away with grades entirely. Instead, teachers are encouraged to give students little to no homework, move deadlines, and have fewer outcome-driven measurements of achievement.
What’s the rationale behind the move?
“By continuing to use century-old grading practices,” wrote L.A. Unified’s chief academic administrator, “we inadvertently perpetuate achievement and opportunity gaps, rewarding our most privileged students and punishing those who are not.” In other words, standardized grades are racist.
But isn’t suggesting that poor or minority kids can’t get good grades itself a racist belief?
A major reason for merit-based grading is that if we don’t evaluate students based on their achievements, we’ll evaluate them on something else; in this case, an administrator’s preconceived ideas about their ability to succeed, based entirely on ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
Even more, by doing away with grades, educators keep students from the potential to succeed, no matter how hard they work. It’s a different kind of tyranny, but no less destructive: the tyranny of low expectations.
Publication date: November 29, 2021
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Matt Benoit
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.