Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics? Yes, it's complicated, but in his November 2015 TED Talk, educator Sal Khan shares his plan to turn struggling students into scholars by helping them master concepts at their own pace.
In the Middle
The Case Against Grades | By Alfie Kohn
By now enough has been written about academic assessment to fill a library, but when you stop to think about it, the whole enterprise really amounts to a straightforward two-step dance. We need to collect information about how students are doing, and then we need to share that information (along with our judgments, perhaps) with the students and their parents. Gather and report -- that's pretty much it.
You say the devil is in the details? Maybe so, but I'd argue that too much attention to the particulars of implementation may be distracting us from the bigger picture -- or at least from a pair of remarkable conclusions that emerge from the best theory, practice, and research on the subject: Collecting information doesn't require tests, and sharing that information doesn't require grades. In fact, students would be a lot better off without either of these relics from a less enlightened age.