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Gradeless Mastery

Updated: Apr 8


“Grades really cover up failure to teach. A bad instructor can go through an entire quarter leaving absolutely nothing memorable in the minds of his class, curve out the scores on an irrelevant test, and leave the impression that some have learned and some have not. But if the grades are removed the class is forced to wonder each day what it’s really learning. The questions, What’s being taught? What’s the goal? How do the lectures and assignments accomplish the goal? become ominous. The removal of grades exposes a huge and frightening vacuum.”

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values


“The function of high school, then, is not so much to communicate knowledge as to oblige children finally to accept the grading system as a measure of their inner excellence. And a function of the self-destructive process in American children is to make them willing to accept not their own, but a variety of other standards, like a grading system, for measuring themselves. It is thus apparent that the way American culture is now integrated it would fall apart if it did not engender feelings of inferiority and worthlessness.”

– Jules Henry


"Way, way too many of my friends and acquaintances said, confided, or shared the following. They earned A's throughout their schooling, but learned nothing except to cram for tests and get an A."

-Tim Ihms


Here at Maricopa Christian Academy we do not provide grades for our first through sixth grade students. What we do provide our students are daily records, we call checksheets. These checksheets are provided to each individual student. Each student's checksheet is an individual daily record of his progress on his daily goals.


We do much more than that in our desire to communicate to our parents. My preference is for the parents to meet weekly for a few minutes each week to discuss progress with their child's teacher. At the least, parents and teacher should be in discussion every six weeks.


Grades have never provided students, parents, and other schools good or accurate information on a child's skills and abilities. A skills checksheet does.


Our student checksheets tell students, parents and other schools exactly what a student has mastered and when. When parents and teacher meet regularly, their communication involves present skills mastery, where the student has been in his skills, and discussion for future goals is based on past and present accomplishments.


Grades are very subjective. There are so many variables. The quality of his teacher, his principal, his school. The student's health, home situation and the quality of his prior education are unique to him. Grades do not reflect the student. Grades reflect his educational environment and home situation.


If a student needs a grade because he is leaving to go to another school, the parents and the teacher will together provide a transcipt with grades.


We are here to recognize each student as a special child made in the image of our God, who is deserving of much praise.

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