Another Indiana school system is considering a move from traditional letter grades to a "standards-based" reporting system that would break each subject into much smaller pieces, providing much more information on how the student is doing in various areas:
For example, in place of a math grade a student would assessed on individual areas of math such as computation and analysis. Affective variables, such as effort, would not be used. A student would only be evaluated on what he or she knows and how he or she demonstrates it.
Am I the only one who thinks this is another education fad labeled as "progress" by professional academics too eager to try anything new? The new system would be enormously time-consuming for teachers and provide more information than most parents probably know what to do with.
Good, old-fashioned letter grades have always done the job and continue to do so because they have become part of our common language. Everyone knows what is meant by an "A effort" or a "C student." The grades don't give much specifics, but they tell you how a student did in relation to everyone else in class.
Grab the first 100 kids you see, stick them in a room and give them a test, and they'll sort out just like the last 100 and the next 100. It's called the bell curve, and it will keep its hold on us no matter how obsessed with egalitarianism we become.