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Grades and Test Scores Don’t Matter. A Love of Learning Does.


Grades and Test Scores Don’t Matter. A Love of Learning Does.

Steven Singer

My daughter probably would be shocked to discover what I truly think about grades.

They don’t matter all that much.

The other day she brought home a pop quiz on sloths from her third grade class. It had a 40% F emblazoned on the top in red ink.

I grabbed the paper from her book bag and asked her to explain what had happened.

She smiled nervously and admitted that she had rushed through the assignment.


Nice to see genuine insight on a tough subject.

If only our body politic would show even the slightest interest in learning, perhaps we could move forward. Instead, we are ruled by politicians (and especially Republicans) who disdain learning, knowledge, and above all else, facts. Instead, the only thing they seem to love is “political contributions”, otherwise known as bribes.


I agree with most of these premises. I would add that there are many paths to the objective, Human beings learn in a variety of ways, and if the goal is to nurture young intellects there is no quicker way to kill enthusiasm than to place a majority of the emphasis on grades and graduation. We’re way too infatuated with measurements and quantification, and try to turn everything into charts graphs and statistics. Psychometrics used in testing only measure one small aspect of learning. Holistic assessments and engaging students in self-evaluation are more accurate and help students develop a sense of self-efficacy and autonomy, characteristics we want in our future citizens.


My impression is that Finland also deemphasizes or even eliminates homework. If we are really interested in creativity, eight hours a day in school is enough.


What matters is that students meet grade level standards as they move forward, and that teachers effectively teach the content–these are merely fundamental, like jacks or better to open the poker hand. But it is this basic area that needs improvement in our schools, because teacher practice and effectiveness from class to class and school to school can be so uneven. I wholly support your idea that creativity and curiosity are the premiere goals–but we both know that attitudes like these can be instilled only by the fewest of your colleagues, not by the majority. This was true all through my schooling in the 50s through 80s, and is still true today. Your view is advanced–now tell us how we can create more teachers such as yourself, and let the under-performers among your colleagues find another career.