A commitment to an alternative education: fewer numerical grades and no repetition of the grade

A young woman takes an exam.

A young woman takes an exam.

The teaching movement ‘No grades’ advocates a more efficient way to assess the student -that is not based exclusively on the numerical rating- and believes that repetition is of little use if the student is not accompanied towards the improvement and acquisition of knowledge.

‘Without notes’ was created by a group of teachers from different educational stages who are inspired by the international ‘Gradeless’ movement, university professor Belén Palop, one of its co-founders, explains to Efe. “The idea is not to change the numbers for a pass or fail, but to substitute the numbers for an explanation of where this child has to go “with problems, while generating an action plan that helps him to learn correctly.

In the opinion of the computer engineer and doctor from the Applied Mathematics program of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, when the way of evaluating is changed, “a lot of things are modified, almost naturally”. The key is whether the learning “I am going to direct it with numbers or with a formative evaluation” that accompanies and helps the child.

According to this professor from the Faculty of Education of Segovia (University of Valladolid), “it is easier for the student and for the family than be informed of what needs to be improved to just give it a number. “” A five is just a five and does not generate a work schedule. The end of the evaluation has to be the action plan and a five does not lead me to this, “insists the co-founder of ‘Without notes’, a movement born a few months ago in Spain and with implantation in the Anglo-Saxon world.

“You can take a test and entertain yourself by drawing numbers or drawing conclusions. It is not more work for the teacher but a change of mentality“adds Palop, who also works on national and international projects for the design of STEAM education projects (Mathematics, Engineering and Technology). He emphasizes that the law requires a final grade and, depending on the educational levels,” is until necessary; such as the University that issues a degree that guarantees a series of final competences “, but in the non-university stages” it should be a formative evaluation, the only objective of which is for the student to learn “.

As for repetition – the Lomloe states that it must be an exceptional measure – Palop points out that keeping a student “just doesn’t work; what we do at the end of the course with those who have not acquired sufficient skills. If there had been a formative evaluation we would not consider this in June. “If the repetition rate is 25% in Secondary Education, does that mean that he is failing sixth grade in a brutal way, deceiving all the children or does this mean We don’t know what to do when someone comes to us from Primary without something that we think is essential? I think it’s more like the latter. ”

Therefore, he reasons, the teacher must go where the student failed to acquire the necessary knowledge. Palop, he explains, meets students of the first year of the Mathematics Degree with gaps in topics of fractions or percentages and the way to help them is to return with them to much earlier stages of teaching to correct such deficits.

The deep debate is not the dichotomy “repeat yes or no”, but what supports and reinforcements are needed to fill in the learning gaps, concludes this expert in mathematics didactics. According to the latest PISA report, repeating a year does not improve either the skills or the performance of Spanish students, which almost triples the average repetition rate of the year. European Union.


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