Should we reinvent the grading system?

There's been a lot of talk about issues with the current grading system lately. I watch social media closely and it's my job to share some of the hot topics on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other outlets that teachers, principals, students, and parents are contributing.

Dr. Justin Tarte recently posted an image that argues we should eliminate the average grade. “The average,” in this case, meaning the average score a student received that year.  The image, shown below, lists seven different ways a student could end up receiving a “C” on their report card. These ways range from starting with high marks and slowly losing points to getting all high marks with one exception. The point is clear. Simply slapping a “C” on a report card doesn't tell the whole story. A student could start weak and finish strong, only make one mistake, or start strong and finish weak and get the same grade. If that's the case, then how helpful is taking the average? None of the scores listed in the image tell the same story, but they all had the same average grade. They'd all have the same mark on their transcript despite having wildly different years.

grading system

There is one major problem with this image though. There's no suggested alternative. If we eliminate the average from our system, then how do we assess students? Do we simply ignore their early performance? Do we do away with grades altogether? Do we move to a pass/fail system? How do other places assess their students?

Tori Pakizer is the Social Media Editor at SimpleK12.com. She writes regularly about the use of educational technology in K-12 classrooms, and specializes in how teachers use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. You can follow Tori and SimpleK12 on Twitter @SimpleK12. If you have ideas for using social media in schools, please send your information or tip to editor@simplek12.com.