Getting Rid of the Letter Grades As our country moves into the twenty-first century, it must closely evaluate its current system of doing things. However, an evaluation of today's students would not be positive. This is because students fear failure and fear getting bad grades. A simple solution to this problem would be to eliminate grades altogether and to reinstate the power of learning to gain knowledge and character, not to get a letter grade. Abolishing grades would work toward eliminating the apathy and lack of learning currently displayed by most students. For a long time, achieving good grades and nothing more has been the ultimate goal in a student's academic life.
This is a standard that was set centuries ago by "grownups" that needed a way of ranking students based solely on letters or numbers. Individuality and creativity were pushed aside so colleges, universities, graduate schools and employers would be able to judge their candidates. Students' minds are generally focused on getting an "A", so they usually don't think about learning. Rather they constantly think about the "A".
Many candidates' acceptance is based on their academic and test standards and nothing more. Grades are thought to be the most accurate way to judge. Individuals and schools provide testing and grades that are utilized by higher learning institutions and also by potential employers. These institutions tend to accurately judge someone based solely on a system that encourages memorization and underhanded tactics instead of learning for the sake of benefiting one's future. That is why students are subjected to cheating, which will not help them in the long run. This isn't fair.
Judging a candidate through merely reviewing the paperwork does not show his / her character and style, which are more important than any test scores could ever prove. That is why universities, graduate schools and employers should devise their own methods of comprehensive testing to replace grades, that would more accurately show an individual's abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. These tactics may more accurately judge people for who they really are. Also, eliminating grades would allow a person's unique qualities to dominate instead of just the cumulative GPA or class rank, as in now the case. The abolishing of student grades would allow students to break free from having to conform. Eliminating grades would allow students to actually learn instead of just memorizing facts for a test and soon forgetting the information completely.
"Good" students in a grade-based society tend to conform to just getting good grades, not truly learning, in order to have a chance at a better future. Many times, there are classes that students are interested in and would be really challenging that they simply would not take because of the risk of getting a bad grade, even the dreaded "F". These classes might teach students some very valuable lessons. They will never find out as long as grades still exist.
In our current system, students need very high grades to be accepted to graduate school and eventually to obtain a great job. This is the case with many students. They fear the threat of a bad grade, so they pass up a valuable experience. Students worry about their grades in order to be accepted at better institutions. Because of the pressures that each student goes through for the sake of an "A", they do not fully absorb the material to a point where they are knowledgeable about the subject. So they rely on classes in which they can memorize facts, take the test, get the good grades, and move on, without really learning or retaining anything.
Although the idea of abolishing grades sounds appealing, many would argue that an abrupt abolishing of grades would send schools, students, parents and our entire nation into a state of chaos with the argument of chaos, many people would have to agree. Students, as well as adults, have become too dependent on using grades as a way of judging intelligence and performance. The nation cannot take away the grading system because then the nation would not know how to judge a person by the person's character instead of mere numbers and letters. The only way of eliminating this problem is through a gradual removal of grades. This process would have to begin with the generation of children who are not familiar with the grade system. They would probably be harmed by the sudden loss of the grading system, but eventually it would benefit them with the knowledge of their previous studies.
So, as our country prepares for the year 2000 and even further into the future, it should also allow its students to better prepare for their futures. Abolishing grades and freeing them from the pressure associated with getting good grades would be a step in the right direction. It would allow them the opportunity to take chance, fail, succeed, challenge and be challenged at almost anything. Most importantly, it would allow students to do something they have been restricted from far too long, to learn.