No Grades for Homework in Baltimore County

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In Baltimore County Public Schools, your effort–not your accuracy–will be the main thing that counts when it comes to homework.

The county is trying out a new grading policy that mandates that homework not be graded. It also eliminates things like behavior and attendance from being factored into a child’s grade. The idea is to move away from focusing on performance as it relates to individual assignments, and rather on a student’s holistic understanding of the topic at hand. To that end, students who score poorly on a test are also given the chance to re-take it for a higher grade.

The new policy has met with much debate, both within the school system and in the wider world. Critics argue that it discourages effort; advocates argue that by shifting attention away from assignments and more toward knowledge, the school system will reduce drop-outs and foster at atmosphere of knowledge, rather than just task-completion.

The policy is currently being tested out in the schools; presumably, if students lose all their motivation and all become lazy, unmotivated slugs, the school board can shift course. I imagine that won’t be what happens, though.



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  1. Pull out your bs detector when you hear the word “holistic,” but be especially wary when used in connection with public education. This scheme sounds like the county just wants to goose up everyone’s grades – yay, look at how much improved our students are! – without insisting on the hard work that goes along with that. I also wonder if anyone’s employment contract offers a bonus for improved student performance?

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