Ideas like this have caused many school districts to trend away from traditional grading systems and instead give all children good grades as long as they demonstrate effort.
I think it's absurd.
First, building my child's self-esteem is MY JOB as a mother. A teacher's job, in my opinion, is to instruct my child in academics (i.e. math, reading, writing, physical education, and science) and expose my child to subjects she may elect to specialize in (e. g. art, music, sports, etc.). Report cards are one way teachers can communicate with me how well my child is demonstrating a knowledge of the concepts being taught.
If my child is attaching self-esteem to his grades, regardless of whether he's getting As or Fs, then I have failed, not the teacher.
But if the report card is full of the equivalents of Es (as in my child is demonstrating effort), that tells me NOTHING about what she has actually learned! How can I help my child work on her timetables, for example, if the note on the report card says: "Demonstrates a lot of effort and is approaching grade level." This sends the message that my child's doing fine, when really what should probably happen is some extra math practice at home.
When my child enters the workforce, he will find that the most skilled applicants get the jobs. And if they are not competent enough to do the job, then they are let go. This should not be a blow to his self-esteem, but an encouragement to find the job best suited to his skills. Or at least gain the skills necessary to get and keep the job.
That's why I think we should throw out the Es and go back to a more traditional grading system. Those who can demonstrate that they know all the concepts get the A, and those who can't demonstrate at least a 50% understanding get the F.
I know one of the arguments against this post is that for many children, the teacher is the only trusted parent figure in their lives. Well, that's for tomorrow's post.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)