Standardized Grading System

995 Words4 Pages
Grades and standardized testing have become integral components of American education in recent years and it is difficult to imagine an education system without these elements in place. While the idea of grading systems, standardization, and even standardized testing is good, or at the very least logical and well meaning, in theory, in practice these systems have been detrimental to the well-being of students and to their development as learners. In Alfie Kohn’s essay, “Lures for Learning: Why Behaviorism Doesn’t Work” from his book Punished by Rewards, Kohn claims that these “lures for learning” - grades and measures and standards - slowly erode students’ intrinsic desires and motivations to learn, causing learning and education to become…show more content…
In the beginning, they are fascinated with all aspects of their world and attempt to understand it, but “As children progress through elementary school...their approach to learning becomes increasingly extrinsic” (Kohn, 1999, p.144) as a result of their schools motivating their learn via extrinsic means, such as giving them “stickers and stars” and then eventually “they are rewarded for getting rewards” (Kohn, 1999, p. 143), causing their initial intrinsic motivation to become extrinsic. So as they progress through the schooling system, a student’s desire to learn is mostly motivated by the positive feelings they receive when they are rewarded for their academic achievements with good grades and other academic…show more content…
What had, at one point, been intrinsic became extrinsic because “Rewards for learning undermine intrinsic motivation” (Kohn, 1999, p. 148). Math was particularly difficult for me. I was never good at math, but for a long time I was able to do the bare minimum of work and get an A for my effort. This changed in high school. During my junior year, the school made us do this online program called “Study Island” to help us prepare to take the HSPA. I hated it, especially because it tested me on math that I had not learned in my classes so I had to teach it to myself, but in order to get a good grade, we had to pass every module with an “advanced proficiency.” I failed each module at least 10 times and had to ask my teacher to reset my progress so I could try again. It seems silly now, but it made me so miserable and frustrated I would cry while doing the problems. This went on for weeks and by the end of it I had only learned enough to pass the test and nothing more. I could not even understand what I was doing. I was just putting numbers into an equation and hoping I got lucky with my guesses and a few years later, I had forgotten what I had “studied” entirely. In math, I could be considered a learner, yes, but a “reluctant, other-directed [learner] who [has] been trained to read everything
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