Calvin White: What’s wrong with the clarity of letter grades?
Schools are out for another summer, and in B.C. next year’s Grade 9 students will no longer eagerly anticipate their report cards to discover what letter grades they have earned.
Marks and letter grades have existed for many decades in order to describe a level of attainment, a measure by which others evaluate us, and by which we know where we stand vis-a-vis others. As with any measurement, from gold medals in sports to bonuses paid in business, there can be a sideeffect that equates self-worth with attainment. There are sideeffects to every situation or endeavour in our lives — moving jobs, relationship choices, and on and on. The key, always, is what is the gain?
With marks and grades, there is a generally agreed upon understanding of what they reflect in terms of capabilities, effort, readiness or aptitude. Getting an A in math, for example, tells you that you can assume you have the basis for success in a field needing math expertise, and getting 95 per cent suggests that you likely have a stronger affinity than if you got 86 per cent.