This year I’m serious about my New Year’s resolution: Eliminate traditional grades in every school

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In the last few years, I’ve been pretty good with New Year’s resolutions. One year, I promised to have a golf handicap in the mid teens. With plenty of practice and a little coaching, I made it happen. Another year, I lost 10 pounds.

My 2014 resolution is far more daunting than shaving a few golf strokes or cutting out fast food. This year, I’m promising to change education forever.

I’m going to encourage teachers everywhere to stop grading their students, using points, percentages and letters.

It may be crazy, but. . .

Sure, this may seem like an inconceivable, ridiculous, completely crazy idea.

After all, wasn’t flying a plane inconceivable? Wasn’t the microwave a ridiculous idea? I mean who in his right mind would eat something exposed to radiation? Wasn’t the Smartphone a completely crazy thought? Could an internet-ready computer and high-functioning video camera really be placed inside a four-inch mobile device?

If these outrageous inventions could become realities, revolutionizing travel, eating and communication, why can’t assessment be changed?

The plan

Any successful resolution or goal needs a plan. Here’s how I intend to stop traditional grading in its tracks in 2014:

  1. Share this 5-step blueprint for eliminating grades with teachers nationwide often.
  2. Enlist the help of educators in my Personal Learning Network. This must be a widespread grassroots effort.
  3. Create open forums with parents and school leaders about the value of SE2R feedback over traditional grades (more on this later).
  4. Write about the power of feedback and the failure of grades. There’s plenty of prose coming on this subject.
  5. Get the publishing lobby to buy in. I’ve been hard on education publishers, like Pearson, who capitalize on education reforms, like the Common Core. What if a powerhouse publisher decided to put its resources behind narrative feedback? Imagine the possibilities.

So, in 2014, I’m going to war, and my enemy is traditional grades.

Are you ready to join the fight?

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.
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