The continued debate over the value of grades as an evaluator of scholastic aptitude and life-skills preparedness seems due in large part to the disconnect between high testing scores and success in one’s career as an adult.
Grades measure a student’s ability to receive information and to apply that information in the theoretical environment of a written or oral test, and/or term-project.
In short, grades in the classroom is a weak indicator of success “in the real world” for some students, while being a strong indicator of success for other students.
To understand the reason for this observable difference, one needs only accept that grades are one necessary tool, among other tools, in the preparation for and prediction of success in life’s career.
Grades are to the students the same as the gym is to the body’s muscles. Scholastic excellence that requires no effort can be assumed to be natural aptitude. Athletic prowess, without training, may be considered an equally-genetic predisposition.
What is the point of this comparison?
In a word, “Strength is increased, when pressure is applied.” (Winston Middlesbrough)
In layman’s terms, the student, who knows that he or she will be tested on the material is more likely to actually try to learn the material than is a student, who is told that the material is “important for life, but there will be no test.”
Grades can easily be a more accurate assessment tool than might be originally thought.
For example, the students, who breeze through twelve years of elementary/secondary education with straight-A’s may have a photographic memory, which aids in the taking of tests, but may require little of the student in the way of actual life-skills preparation.
Meaning? Valedictorian can mean President of a company or it can mean “Has-Been.” The telling element is the amount of effort required to achieve Valedictorian status.
On the other hand, “B” and “C” students may actually be more gifted at life-skills, since some scholastic achievement may have been sacrificed on the altar of the need to earn some of the family’s living, due to the death of the “bread-winner.”
Though the letter grades may seem less of an achievement, these grades are more consistently-extant with a broad-base of life-experiences that will benefit the student, throughout the duration of life.
To add an addition layer of perspective to Grades, students, who consistently make “A’s” are no more automatically to fail in life than average students are automatically successful in life.
The student, who achieves “A’s” at the cost of great personal effort, has about the same potential for success in life as the average student, who expended effort but had extenuating abilities and/or circumstances, which reduced the ability to memorize and/or recall on tests, for instance.
A summary will no doubt help to grade the success of this presentation.
1. Grades are important. (Grades give some indication of a student’s ability to receive and to give back information.)
2. Many factors “color” the application of grades, regarding future success in life.
3. These factor’s include personality; learning style, (aka auditory, visual, and tactile;) strength of family environment; and compatibility of teacher and student personalities in the classroom.
Grades do matter, but grades are only as helpful as the teachers and the parents, who constantly refer to these indicators as an aid to the molding of growing minds.