The Trends of 2015 – Going Grade-Less

One of our favorite blogs “A Work In Progress” shared their top 5 posts from 2015 and we think it says a lot about what is happening in education today.

Do you see a theme? It’s a lot about doing an entirely different grading system.

Read the top 5 posts of 2015 over at (there’s a free registration to read full articles, it’s worth it)

This grade-less trend has been in the news a lot lately.

Some schools have put “competency based learning” on the menu and it is making immediate differences:

Seven years ago, Sanborn was a mediocre school district surrounded by high-performing ones. To turn things around, the entire school community decided to take a risk and transform teaching and learning.

The state of New Hampshire was already encouraging school districts to take a look at competency-based education, so Sanborn became an early adopter of the model – diving in headfirst.

Today, Sanborn Regional School District is one of only a few public school districts that has completely converted.

“People want to come here all the time,” says Vice Principal Hadwen. “They’re constantly sending us emails and asking ‘Can we come visit and bring a team and find out what you’re doing?’”

Read more:


The National Education Association has addressed the issue:

“The research quite clearly shows that kids who are graded – and have been encouraged to try to improve their grades – tend to lose interest in the learning itself, avoid challenging tasks whenever possible (in order to maximize the chance of getting an A), and think less deeply than kids who aren’t graded,” Kohn explains. “The problem isn’t with how we grade, nor is it limited to students who do especially well or poorly in school; it’s inherent to grading.

“That’s why the best teachers and schools replace grades (and grade-like reports) with narrative reports – qualitative accounts of student performance – or, better yet, conferences with students and parents.”

Read more: “Are Letter Grades Failing Our Students?” from the


and the Washington Post talks about how this trend is affecting college admissions:

But Bock said there is a silver lining: Without rank, admissions officers have been forced to look a little more closely at applications when students come from schools without rank. Maybe that’s a good thing, he said.

“We do have to spend more time on those schools that bunch everyone together,” Bock said. “We look beyond that.”

Read more: High schools are doing away with class rank. What does that mean for college admissions?


How about you? Have you gone grade-less? Do you want to? Why or why not?

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