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 15 2012: I trend data in higher ed. You will probably have too much data. You might want to break it to biweekly or monthly to really analyse trends. Otherwise your data will be too sensitive to stuff like boyfriend-girlfriend breakups, fights with parents, staying up late. You will still get some of that but it will better reflect true improvement.

    I really don't think daily grades will be inspirational. It will eventually become just more ignored information that grades already are. Just ignored daily. Let me guess, you were a boyscout and you collected badges:)
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      Jun 21 2012: No, I just have a personal story. Member of the family is super smart, but can't do well in school and it has to do with his confidence vs. his ability to absorb and regurgitate knowledge. To him it became "Well, I was never good at it so I guess I never will be. I give up."

      I was trying to think of a way to help students in this type of situation. I also wasn't referring to giving out daily grades, just grades in general.
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        Jun 21 2012: I have one of those brilliant kids that can't do school either. Also gave up on school. But the kid is brilliant, just cannot sit in a class for hours on end. I wish the education system had more hands on learning. Why not teach math in an application like woodworking? Or history at historical sites? Finance at a local business? Really the problem is the way we do school, not how we grade. At least for many many learners.

        Our local high school where my kids attended had a 48% drop out rate. 48% and instead of looking at what the problem is in the system, they are looking at the problem in the student. Trying to find the best way to fit the student into the system. This is so wrong.

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