I have a prediction, that should bring joy to the next generation of students everywhere.
There will be no more grades. No measurements. None at all.
It's not even fair to call it a prediction. It's more like a trend that is already rolling full steam ahead.
After all, we're a society of participation awards. Everyone's a star, everyone's a genius, there's no wrong answer. Failure would hurt someone's feelings.
Yale Medical School, of all places, is among a handful of colleges that do not employ grades.
I looked up a bunch that decry grades, often with a plethora of promotional mumbo-jumbo.
Evergreen State "encourages students to customize their education to suit their interests and goals. There are no required courses, and students develop their own academic plan in the form of Areas of Emphasis for themselves."
Precott College "aims to emphasize self-direction and internal learning." The structure of grading involves narrative evaluation from professors that details how the students achieved their academic objectives."
Translation = do anything you feel like, as long as your parents keep those checks coming.
Apparently, grades aren't cool.
In fact, grades are on the verge of not mattering.
Much has been said on a trend of "grade hyperinflation," and the "GPA arms race," as a PBS Newshour study this week termed it.
Some 42 percent of college grades are now A's, and only 23 percent are lower than a B. Nobody's "average" any more. At Yale now, 62 percent of all grades are A's.
In fact, A grades in U.S. colleges are handed out triple as many times as in the 1960s, when bad grades could punch your ticket to Vietnam. Have students become three times as smart since then? Test scoring and graduate literacy evaluations say no.
So why is everybody ace-ing college now?
I suspect it has a lot to do with the skyrocketing cost of tuition and the debt heaped on the young collegiates.
They are treated less as students, and more as consumers. Colleges compete for kids, not kids competing to get into a college. Campuses as less institutions and more businesses. Students expect not only amenities, but to be given success for the money. And if they get C's, they may well not look to work harder, but go looking for a transfer to another school where they will be better rewarded.
PBS also theorizes that some professors are giving easy grades hoping to in exchange receive better course reviews from the students, which can boost the prof's career path. Who doesn't love an "easy" prof?
Our kids, I hope. The professors I remember most, and the ones I managed to learn the most from, were the ones that made me work, sweat and read the longest and hardest in order to have any hope for a decent grade.
Easy A classes and educators are forgotten the minute you walk out. I had one college professor who on the first day of class told us that we could come every day if we wanted, but he wasn't about to. He told us to buy the study guide, it had all the answers in it, and come back on final day. I figure that guy still owes me money, my tuition and time were wasted. I could have read a book at home and learned as much.
My children are both in college now. I applaud those professors who make it tough on them. They are earning their pay. I don't care if a prof is popular. I don't care if my kids get straight A's. I do care whether they learn.
No doubt the college no-grade trend will ebb down to school districts eventually. Remember when kids who flunked were "held back?" Now, do good or do bad, you move along, though the state is trying a bit to stop rubber stamping students who can't read.
At the other end of the spectrum, the 4.0 scale isn't so concrete, either. Typically a number of top students around the area manage enough "extra" to achieve four-year grade points well in excess of the "perfect" 4.0.
Most employers don't even ask about an applicant's grades any more, it is seen as a meaningless number.
I'm not opposed to pitching the traditional grade-system if we have something better in mind - at least better than new-age feel-good self-determination educations.
Without grading of some kind, how would a kid know where they stand - what they need more work on and what they don't? How do we tell exceptional effort from the average?
It's coming, though. The day when you ask a student how they did in college or high school, and get a quizzical expression and they answer, "I went."