TED Conversations

David Bradley

Project Manager, ALPFA Institute


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to grade people in high school on improvement vs. right or wrong

Would it not be a better idea to recognize improvement vs. intelligence? I know that there would have to be careful attention paid to bias, but It would seem to me that being recognized for how much better I am doing today than yesterday would be much more inspirational and make me think about how to do better. We could change a "C" from meaning average to meaning "the same", a "B" would mean better than before, and an A would mean even more improvement, a "D" would raise eyebrows as to why they are not as good as before.

Is it a problem with the student or the environment? Did I not teach this subject as well as I could have? etc.

Improvement based grading would give us a great barometer for our schools and our teachers, those students who may be ahead of the curve would have reason to excel, those that were perhaps behind would still remain confident in their decisions and learn better by having a more accurate rating of their skills.

We could use technology to create running charts of improvement and see trends over longer periods of time. I'm sure there would be other ways and I'd like to here your thoughts on this idea.

What do you think?


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    Jun 16 2012: It's all part of a system, and when my kid is getting heart surgery, I could really care less how much the surgeon holding the knife "improved", I want to know if she or he knows the material backward and forward. Same goes for my tax accountant, my pharmacist, my lawyer, the guy fixing my brakes, the woman designing seals for space shuttle engines, etc.

    Working back from there, we need to know which people have mastered the material at a level to be ready to begin med school (or whatever).
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      Jun 21 2012: I think I may have been a little unclear and didn't mean to say that ALL education should be done this way. I was more referring to primary education vs. post-high school. obviously, there needs to be a standard to achieve once a certain level of education is obtained.

      i was thinking more along the lines of a way to provide the necessary self-confidence required to achieve certain levels of education.

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