Too many of our school policies de-motivate more students than they motivate, and grading is right up at the top of the list.  At the high school level, we be begin grading 9th graders on Day One, when most of them are still trying to learn where their classes are, how to the navigate the building and which restrooms to avoid at what times.  Why?

What if we did this instead? What if we made the freshman classes “Pass / Fail.”  Either the student meets the learning standard by the end of the semester, or he/she doesn’t.  Then the Freshman Year becomes about learning the school, learning the culture, and learning the content, without worrying about digging a hole so deep in the first semester of high school, that it is impossible to recover.

And before I hear about how this is watering down expectations (which it isn’t) and students won’t try (they will), consider this… Harvard, MIT and many of the other schools in the Ivy League grade freshman courses as pass / fail.  And no matter how high the standards are at your high school, Ivy League standards are higher.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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