No grades in high school?

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
48,881
36,796
Toronto

Teacher Erin Marsella, centre, speaks with students in her grade 9 advanced math class at Richmond Hill High School.

None of the students ever pass math quizzes in Erin Marsella’s high-school class, and none of them ever fail. They never get their results in the form of a percentage mark at the top of the page, but rather with a series of check marks, X’s and dots.

It is an unusual approach, but one that is challenging the intense focus on marks and how teachers and students think about learning and achievement.

“I really, really believe this is where education should be going,” said Ms. Marsella, from her classroom at Richmond Hill High School in Ontario. She added: “This method of assessment meets students where they are. It supports them to have courage and take risks in their learning.”

Other than a midterm mark and a final grade, which are provincial reporting requirements, Ms. Marsella gives her Grade 9 gifted students a tracking sheet after a quiz or test, where each question is given a check mark or an X, which means it was answered correctly or incorrectly, or a dot, meaning the student used the correct approach but made errors in calculations. It shows them whether they have mastered certain expectations, and if they don’t have consistent check marks, they can meet with her where they will have another chance to master the concept.

When she first proposed the idea of a virtually mark-less classroom this fall to parents and students in her gifted math classes, she was met with little resistance. Although parents wanted to be sure they could still track how their children were faring, and some students wished they could see a mark, they all understood that mastering the math was more important, she said.
Much more: At an Ontario high school, a mark-less math class is challenging how students engage in learning

That IS an interesting approach...

And, perhaps, it works for her special, "gifted" kids, and that's great for them. But, I have a feeling it would not be so good with regular children...

I recall myself at that age. If I wasn't graded on my school subjects, I would have just said, fuck it, skipped all the classes, ignored the homework assignments, and not learned anything at all...

I don't want to think my own sons will be like me when they are teens, but, I do believe in genetics (and my other kid back in Moscow apparently is already, at 12 now, just as much of an annoying handful as I was at 12, according to his mom, my ex-gf, back there haha)

Grading is necessary for discipline, in my opinion, as well as for feedback for parents (also part of discipline too)
 
Mar 2012
59,991
41,456
New Hampshire

Teacher Erin Marsella, centre, speaks with students in her grade 9 advanced math class at Richmond Hill High School.



Much more: At an Ontario high school, a mark-less math class is challenging how students engage in learning

That IS an interesting approach...

And, perhaps, it works for her special, "gifted" kids, and that's great for them. But, I have a feeling it would not be so good with regular children...

I recall myself at that age. If I wasn't graded on my school subjects, I would have just said, fuck it, skipped all the classes, ignored the homework assignments, and not learned anything at all...

I don't want to think my own sons will be like me when they are teens, but, I do believe in genetics (and my other kid back in Moscow apparently is already, at 12 now, just as much of an annoying handful as I was at 12, according to his mom, my ex-gf, back there haha)

Grading is necessary for discipline, in my opinion, as well as for feedback for parents (also part of discipline too)
I think a school can start with no grades for elementary school and then begin in middle school to give grades. The thing is grades in high school not only instill discipline but they also teach people that if you work hard you get rewarded. If I knew my friend was not going to class and not doing homework why should I? With grades I can see results and get into college. One of the local high schools around here decided to stop ranking kids in high school. Lasted about two years until a bunch couldnt get into college. The parents complained that colleges used that as one of the measures to get in.
 

StanStill

Former Staff
Dec 2013
13,897
16,011
Work
That IS an interesting approach...

And, perhaps, it works for her special, "gifted" kids, and that's great for them. But, I have a feeling it would not be so good with regular children...

I recall myself at that age. If I wasn't graded on my school subjects, I would have just said, fuck it, skipped all the classes, ignored the homework assignments, and not learned anything at all...

I don't want to think my own sons will be like me when they are teens, but, I do believe in genetics (and my other kid back in Moscow apparently is already, at 12 now, just as much of an annoying handful as I was at 12, according to his mom, my ex-gf, back there haha)

Grading is necessary for discipline, in my opinion, as well as for feedback for parents (also part of discipline too)

I'm not so sure about that. It's not that they aren't receiving feedback. They are getting tests back with checkmarks and Xs next to each answer. I think even the "regular" kids know what's going on when they get a test back with all Xs. I'd probably be more engaged to make sure I learned all the things I wasn't clear on because it's like you're completely blind as to what your midterm and final grade will be (which they still get). If I had the whole semester to prepare myself for the fact that I'd probably get a C, I'd probably end up with a C. If I had no obvious way to know how I was doing so far, I think I'd be a lot more likely study hard enough that I'd end up with an B or A out of fear I could be in D territory.

Anyway, I like it. I kind of ignored my grades until our report cards came out anyway, and I did pretty well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: The Man
Jun 2014
51,581
53,393
United States
That IS an interesting approach...

And, perhaps, it works for her special, "gifted" kids, and that's great for them. But, I have a feeling it would not be so good with regular children...

I recall myself at that age. If I wasn't graded on my school subjects, I would have just said, fuck it, skipped all the classes, ignored the homework assignments, and not learned anything at all...

I don't want to think my own sons will be like me when they are teens, but, I do believe in genetics (and my other kid back in Moscow apparently is already, at 12 now, just as much of an annoying handful as I was at 12, according to his mom, my ex-gf, back there haha)

Grading is necessary for discipline, in my opinion, as well as for feedback for parents (also part of discipline too)

I wouldn't say that she's not grading the students' work. She's merely employing a more sophisticated method than the standard percentage grade.

You really think she'd pass you if you cut class and didn't perform your class work? That's reading far more into the article than what is presented.
 
Jan 2014
18,961
5,530
California

Teacher Erin Marsella, centre, speaks with students in her grade 9 advanced math class at Richmond Hill High School.



Much more: At an Ontario high school, a mark-less math class is challenging how students engage in learning

That IS an interesting approach...

And, perhaps, it works for her special, "gifted" kids, and that's great for them. But, I have a feeling it would not be so good with regular children...

I recall myself at that age. If I wasn't graded on my school subjects, I would have just said, fuck it, skipped all the classes, ignored the homework assignments, and not learned anything at all...

I don't want to think my own sons will be like me when they are teens, but, I do believe in genetics (and my other kid back in Moscow apparently is already, at 12 now, just as much of an annoying handful as I was at 12, according to his mom, my ex-gf, back there haha)

Grading is necessary for discipline, in my opinion, as well as for feedback for parents (also part of discipline too)
Mr. Man,

She is giving grades, at mid-term and end of semester, just not marking grades on quizzes and homework.

I kinda fail to see the point. If a student gets 9 out of 10, he knows he got an A. Don't see how it helps having him not see an A on his test.
 
  • Like
Reactions: One and The Man

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
48,881
36,796
Toronto
I wouldn't say that she's not grading the students' work. She's merely employing a more sophisticated method than the standard percentage grade.

You really think she'd pass you if you cut class and didn't perform your class work? That's reading far more into the article than what is presented.
I am saying that some kids (like me, at that time), need to be strictly graded and just for the teacher to be on their ass constantly, to get all their stuff done and more or less... well, if not succeed, at least, NOT fail in the class. Sure, some can be fine with less oversight. Not everyone, however.

But, yes, her method certainly is fascinating. I am not saying I don't like it. In fact, It would be interesting to see it adopted in more schools, among all kinds of kids, and see the results. Maybe it will improve things, who knows...
 

HCProf

Council Hall
Sep 2014
29,630
19,162
USA
I am saying that some kids (like me, at that time), need to be strictly graded and just for the teacher to be on their ass constantly, to get all their stuff done and more or less... well, if not succeed, at least, NOT fail in the class. Sure, some can be fine with less oversight. Not everyone, however.

But, yes, her method certainly is fascinating. I am not saying I don't like it. In fact, It would be interesting to see it adopted in more schools, among all kinds of kids, and see the results. Maybe it will improve things, who knows...
It looks to me, the grade book is based on points. I don't use percentages anymore...for example, if a exam is worth 100 points and they earn 80 points, we put the amount of points earned in the grade book. I do teach them how convert points into percentages. The true test will be where they place in math when they start college.
 
  • Like
Reactions: The Man
Jun 2014
51,581
53,393
United States
I am saying that some kids (like me, at that time), need to be strictly graded and just for the teacher to be on their ass constantly, to get all their stuff done and more or less... well, if not succeed, at least, NOT fail in the class. Sure, some can be fine with less oversight. Not everyone, however.

But, yes, her method certainly is fascinating. I am not saying I don't like it. In fact, It would be interesting to see it adopted in more schools, among all kinds of kids, and see the results. Maybe it will improve things, who knows...

I agree that it deserves being studied. I don't, however, agree with your implication that she is a lackadaisical teacher simply because she has chosen to employ an alternative grading system.
 

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
48,881
36,796
Toronto
It looks to me, the grade book is based on points. I don't use percentages anymore...for example, if a exam is worth 100 points and they earn 80 points, we put the amount of points earned in the grade book. I do teach them how convert points into percentages. The true test will be where they place in math when they start college.
Russian grading system seems the simplest, to me, it's just 1-5 over there, with 5 being top (exceptional work can get 5+ lol) and 2 or less is fail.

OTOH, a teacher over there, especially in Moscow, has to be much more computer and internet savvy...

There are now online sites over there, at most schools, where teachers must put up all the pupils grades, for their parents to log in and check


Used to be good old paper diaries for that stuff

Kids with bad grades would try to forge and correct theirs with whiteout and such lol

These days, instead, kids attempt to hack their online diary pages; in late 2017, for example, a boy in Novosibirsk was apparently caught doing so: Новой школьник попала взломе «элекного дневника»

21st century, progress everywhere haha

Schools have REALLY moved into high tech over there...

No kid over there (outside, like, really remote village schools) carry cash lunch money anymore; everyone has special chip cards now, on which their parents can transfer money for them online


Parents get notified on their smart phones every time kid gets a meal at the cafeteria with his card, including the price of the meal (and I think you can see the exact food, in detail, by clicking on the links for breakfast and dinner)


Those who get various social benefits and subsidies for their meals have those added on their card too.

Kids also use their pupil card to ride on public transit and to get in and out of the school building through the security checkpoint turnstile; when they do so, parents also get a SMS that the kid arrived or left the school

I think, these days, you can track your kid's entire path to and from school this way, through the website, with the card login. See when he or she got on the bus or Metro, etc. It's crazy, especially the urban kids get NO fucking privacy anymore haha

And now, apparently, more and more schools are abandoning even the cards too, and moving into bio-metrics, kids simply scan their palm to get into the building

and to order meals at the cafeteria


Crazy, eh? :D