Abolish Grades

Improve schools: abolish grades.

Do you grade your own children? Is your child a “C”?

Grading is degrading. Future schools will regard grading with horror, like slavery, or frontal lobotomies. Grades either make children feel unworthy, or inculcate that false superiority which spawns the arrogance of class.

With a 740 on my verbal SAT, I attended an Ivy League college. The kid next to me got a 340 and became a mechanic. When my car breaks down, I have no idea how to fix it. I tow it to his garage, awed by his superior intelligence. The grades we got in school mean absolutely nothing.


Grades encourage inside-the-box thinking, the box being a standardized test. Standardized tests produce standardized citizens, risk-averse and suppressed in creativity. Grading pits students against each other, reinforcing an ethic of me-first narcissism rather than cooperative problem-solving.

Like child abuse, grades demand submission to the elite and powerful. Teachers who define success by grades are simply bullies. No teacher is worthy of that title who does not dream of ways to evaluate students without grading them.

Our children are incomparable, each intelligent in a thousand ways but usually graded in just one. Grading establishes a dysfunctional hierarchy where few are rewarded, most are stifled, many are shamed.

Where is that courageous school that carefully evaluates students without grades, where intelligence flowers without bullying by the corporate testing industry, where the heart’s creativity is valued along with the intellect?

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