Just learn the darn thing!


A national movement to base grades on mastery of the subject and not homework or behavior has gained some traction. Educators went to this approach when they discovered that nationally only 26% of high school seniors met college benchmarks in four important subjects. With the mastery approach, homework is not graded and student’s can retake portions of tests.

As with most other well-meaning reforms, this assumes three myths: All kids have the same ability, all should go to college, and all have the same personalities. To start with, only the top 25% or so should go to college. So what’s the fuss?

It’s too early to assess this program but the approach suggested in The Elephant and the Classroom would solve the problem of all kids meeting benchmarks. Kids in career studies wouldn’t need academic benchmarks because they would already be on a mastery-based career program. Meanwhile, the true college-prep student will do fine with or without grading homework and use of tests.

elephant 003elephant 003Students Have One Assignment: Learn.” St. Louis Post Dispatch, December 29, 2013.

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