Sunday, July 02, 2017

Should we use Letter Grades for Students? It depends.

Whether we use a grading system for students in education or rate and or rank employees is always a lively discussion. Over the years I have had many in both a business and education setting and I must say my thinking was usually in the minority even though I’m Right (Ha). Here are two examples:

One of my former students who is now a teacher asked what I thought was the purpose of grades.  I simply answered that grades are usually a result of some sort of testing procedure. So rather than label a student as a failure, average or success I responded that the grade was to provide me as the instructor how well I did in transferring knowledge to the student(s). So it is my evaluation in question not the student.  I need to use the results as to determine which student needs help and to what degree based on the letter grade.

I have written many posts over the years about ranking and rating employees. Never believed in it and probably never will. There is too much variation between employees and the environmental conditions that go in to one’s job (Even if they are the same) that cannot accurately predict the outcome. It is leadership's job to know their employees talents, wants and needs in order provide them a job that will instill pride of workmanship. Rating and Ranking concentrates too much on documenting failures and mishaps as opposed to proving the tools and knowledge to do the job correctly so that he/she can succeed or move the employee to a job that matches their talents.

OUTCOME! That is the key that most people fail to see. We use students and employees as the outcomes (Scapegoats) when they are the product of the system/process. We want to fire or lay-off employees when a company fails when in fact it’s the system or process that determine the outcome. In schools we want to label or demote students and blame teachers for the failure of the system/process.

We want to uses employees and students as the end-result indicators when in fact they are the value-added inputs in each and every process/system. Yes, we need to monitor and measure employees and students but not for pass/fail we need to monitor and measure to help the overall process get better and to provide them with a sense of purpose.

We used to call this inspecting quality at the end of the line after the product is finished/produced. Amazing we still have this mind-set when it comes to students/employees.