Ten things #7 – Stop giving grades

This is the seventh of the ‘ten things’ I discussed in my talk at TMClevedon


One of the most shocking things for me from the ‘Inside the Black Box’ research was the impact that adding a grade to a piece of work had. Not only did it lead to 0% increase, it also reduced the improvement that came from detailed feedback down to 0% as students focussed on the grade and nothing else. This idea of gradeless work became a key part of the second episode of the Classroom Experiment with Dylan Wiliam coming up against all the counter arguments imaginable.

In the end though I’m convinced. Grades simply encourage a race, with some people switching off once their position in the pack has been validated, and others switching off completely. As the work of Carol Dweck and others has suggested, a growth mindset, a race with yourself, is a much more positive one and one I’m keen to encourage by ditching the grades – completely at KS3 and in at least 50% of the work at KS4 and 5.

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