Grading Stinks

A mere observation that for all my meritocratic tendencies, my admitted elitist snobbery, I hate to give grades to students in some classes. There is a point where "pass/fail" starts to make some sense. If a class is outside a student's major, and is meant to develop mastery of basic skill, would it be so bad to simply "pass" students?

I wonder if English would not benefit from being about mastery instead of a grade?

Or, is there a reason to keep issuing grades? People are judged in real life and an education should prepare students for their future professional existences.

I'm torn because I think most of my students did okay this semester. I would have little trouble giving more than the eight "A" grades I did record. However, there is also an argument that with a points system clearly established a student earns his or her grade. I do not "give" grades — they are earned by students. To give everyone the same grade is to diminish the extraordinary efforts of a few special students.

I see two sides to this issue and have no good answer.

Part of me likes grades because some students do deserve special recognition. The other part of me would limit grades and such to those courses essential to a student's future career. I don't care if my doctor got a "B" in an art history class! Really, it isn't a big deal. But if the art historian was a "B" or "C" student in art history... then I care.

There were a few students to whom I wish I could have "given" better grades this semester. The reality is that they didn't earn those better grades when compared to their very hard-working peers.

That is life. Ouch.


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