Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

We need to abolish grading

Grading is a barrier for marginalized groups
Araz Havan

On Feb. 9 2022, the Daily Collegian published an article by Manas Pandit arguing for the end of lettered grading. Pandit wrote, “We’re all used to the feeling of dread (or excitement) a student experiences upon receiving their grades.” He goes on to decry the rigid structure of lettered grading that only shows “that a student is proficient in rote memorization and test-taking.” Ultimately, he is concerned about the accuracy of lettered grading as a measurement of education. Pandit assumes, however, that education and its measurement are morally good and he does not dwell on the “dread (or excitement)” of the grading. As an autistic person, I disagree.

The idea of grading is a convenient ideology that allows for the political, economic and mental elite to reinforce their status, socially and materially. Do we not feel pride when we have better grades than our colleagues? Do we not feel humiliation when we have worse?  These considerations are not mere trifles. Emotionally, they are draining and can induce significant stress in our daily lives. Materially, they can affect one’s admission to colleges, access to careers and financial stability. Grades affect our body, mind and health – whether we can pay for food, rent and healthcare.

Grading asserts that those that arrive on time and blindly follow instruction are worth more than those that do not, and thus deserve more. It is an insidious ideology that says the rich deserve respectable and well-paying jobs – doctor, lawyer, politician, entrepreneur – because of their good grades.

This ideology fosters a sense of competition that divides the working class. It teaches children that poverty is the fault of the poor, due to their lack of motivation. It teaches that disabled people and those who cannot work or study are valued less. This is all neatly packaged in a mathematically calculated number from zero-to-100.

Ultimately, grading is political violence against the disabled, the poor and minorities. It denies us resources as we fail to engage with the language, history and science of the extractive colonizer. Whether it be because of dyslexia, our lead-painted homes or our “desegregated” and underfunded schools, grading nurtures inequality. To build a more just society, we must abolish grading.

In doing so, we must recognize the culpability of some teachers. Today, we stand in unison against bullying and corporal punishment in schools. We continue, however, to allow teachers to grade and rank their students. Teachers perpetuate academic success as a moral quality through grading. We should seek to call out our teachers when they enact discriminatory grading policies such as penalizing international, disabled or otherwise marginalized students on factors they can’t control.

As students, we can contribute to the abolishment of grading. We must fight against this antiquated hierarchical system. Through rendering grades as an unreliable statistic for labor efficiency and obedience, we can make ourselves unquantifiable while increasing our economic success. Resisting this form of political violence against marginalized groups is imperative.

Benjamin Zhou can be reached at [email protected].

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    Joe SchmoeMar 10, 2024 at 11:18 pm

    There is nothing inherent about the grading system that makes us feel pride, humiliation, separates us or brings us together. It is simply a system for determining the percentage of correct answers on exams and assignments. You do not have a problem with the grading system, you have a problem with the associated factors that come with your success in class being represented by a number. Each of the factors I am talking about come from other people. It is your friends and classmates that talk about their grades. It is you who compares yourself to others needlessly.

    Honestly this might be one of the funniest pieces ever published on this site. Have you even thought of the alternatives? Should students just guess how good they are at the material and be surprised when they don’t pass the class? I truly hope with all of my heart that this is satire. This really makes me wonder about the editorial process at this paper. Is there a policy that anything that is written well enough has to be published? Lol