Do Grades Matter: 10 Reasons They Definitely Do
Have you ever asked or been asked the question, “Do grades matter?” These usually come from students who feel that teachers don’t properly evaluate and assess their performance on subjective test scores or homework.
It’s true that some teachers can slough off the grading process. They treat those low-point homework assignments like glorified attendance slips. If you turn it in, you get full credit. No grades, no nothing.
In those cases, a 10/10 isn’t worth much. But effectively utilized, grades can be wonderful tools for you as a student to know where you stand in each subject area. Here are 10 reasons why grades do matter in the modern education system. Let’s begin!
1. Grades Show Your Starting Point
The first reason grades do matter is this. They give you a starting point for where you are in that particular class. How else do you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve on?
While you may have a feeling, you really can’t tell until you are assessed. Grades offer that assessment from someone who is an expert in their subject matter. They are one of the surest ways to validate what you already know or spin you off in another direction.
2. And Progress
Grades are also helpful for tracking progress. If you start out with a D and get it up to a B, that can be an undeniable sign of progress in the subject area.
Yes, some teachers are easier and more forgiving than others. But having that benchmark gives you insight into where you’re going as you transition from one course to the next within the same discipline.
3. Grades Indicate Understanding
Grades also indicate one’s understanding of a particular concept. If a teacher sees that the majority of the class is bombing (or mastering) a specific area, they can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the material is “landing.”
This can serve to enhance the efforts of the teacher. Similarly, it is telling for the student because they can tell themselves, “Okay, I got this, but this needs a little work.”
4. Grades Complement Test Scores
Another way that grades work to improve a student’s education is how they interact with or complement standardized and in-class testing. If you have a 100 percent on homework but you’re getting a 60 percent on the tests, there is a clear shortfall.
Teachers can know from this that maybe they need to pay more attention to the competency of the homework they’re assigning. Rather than simply giving full credit for turning something in, they can up the stakes.
It’s far better to get a 5/10 on a homework assignment if it results in a 75 on the test rather than a 10/10 on the homework for a 50 on the test. Likewise, it does you little good to make A’s on all your classes if you’re pulling an abysmal score on the SAT or ACT.
5. Grades Get You Closer to Graduation
Like them or not, grades determine your passing from one class to the next. Getting a D or above can get you to the next class, though you’ll definitely need to up your performance for those higher-level courses.
Once you have the grades, you can get to the next level of your education. And if your ultimate goal is to get out of school, then you’ll need to know how to play the game, so to speak.
The same is true for life. Performance indicators, flawed though some of them might be, are gatekeepers that must be addressed. Best to learn how now rather than to wait for later!
6. Grades Tell You Where to Improve
Grades are serious indicators of when and where improvements are needed. Firstly, there is the grade itself. If you’re having trouble understanding something, you’ll be able to pinpoint where those weak spots are more easily.
Secondly, there is the timing of the grade. At the start of each semester, your teacher gives you some idea of when test dates and major products are due. You can use grades as an indicator of where you are and where you need to be by a certain time period.
You’ll be a lot more vigilant about vital weaknesses if you know that you’ve only got two weeks until the exam, for instance. The grades and the timing of them tell you were to shift the majority of your study efforts in the weeks ahead so that you’re not spending more time on areas where you don’t need the help.
7. Grades Can Affect Scholarship Eligibility
Scholarships come with a variety of requirements that you have to meet before you can be considered eligible. These will vary depending on what the scholarship is for.
The commonality, however, is that you will have to maintain a certain grade-point average to keep the scholarship. This tells the issuer of FREE MONEY THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY BACK that their funds are not being misused.
Again, we can argue the validity of grades from one class to another, but it’s more about performance indicators. And you’re going to have to get used to listening to those and taking them seriously.
8. Grades Better Prepare You For Testing
Okay, so here, we are talking about the big old standardized tests that everyone thinks you need to succeed. It shows how you stack up against other students in your peer group across the nation. These scores are often a primary source of information for schools and universities everywhere.
Now, the grade in your class has no bearing on what your standardized test scores are. However, teachers who take grades seriously when issuing tend to prepare you better for these tests than those that don’t.
9. Grades Reduce the Need for Parent and Teacher Interventions
How many of you have had parents skip out on parent-teacher conferences, or at least attend abbreviated sessions because they’re happy with your performance? The joke among teachers is that parent-teacher conferences are such a waste because the parents who need to show up for them never do.
Now, it can be good for parents and teachers to meet up and exchange notes even under positive conditions. But, let’s face it, if you’re a straight-A student, you don’t need to spend as much time in them as a straight C or D student.
(We left off F there because the problem with F students is generally that they don’t turn in their work.) If your grades are where they need to be, you can reduce the need for your parents and teachers to meet because of you.
10. Grades Mean You Are Keeping Up
Finally, grades are important because they give you peace of mind that you’re keeping up. No one wants to fall behind their peer group. It can be humiliating and add stress to your future performance in the class.
When you know your grades are where they need to be, you don’t have to fret so much. And, added perk here, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, and your insurance company tend to reward you for those grades. It may not matter as much when you’re in high school, but as you start taking on more of your own bills, you’ll be glad that you took your grades seriously.
So Do Grades Matter? The Answer Is Yes
As you can see, the answer to the question, “Do grades matter?” is and should always be an emphatic yes. And here’s the thing. They only get more important as you move further along your educational journey.
So, if you’re in high school and not taking them quite so seriously, now’s the time to start. You are your own best advocate when it comes to education, and grades are tools for you to be the best advocate that you can be.
Discussion time: do you have any teachers who take grades less seriously than you do? What are some things they’ve done to show you they don’t care? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]