Pam Astolfi: Why grade students?

November 9, 2013 

According to the Oct. 30 N&O news article “Wake could ban ‘zero’ grades,” the Wake County school board is considering a grading policy change related to penalties for late work. I say welcome to the 21st century. Board member Jim Martin apparently opposes the change because students will be expected to turn in work on time in “real life.” Perhaps, but that misses the larger issue.

Our education and grading system stems from the needs of an industrial society when schools were tasked with churning out productive workers in large numbers. In today’s world, does being a loyal, dependable hard worker lead to job security? Just ask any of the people who have been outsourced, downsized or laid off after years of service. Job success in today’s world is far more tied to flexibility and creativity. Innovative private and charter schools are figuring this out, and some are even doing away with grades altogether. It is time for the public school system to embrace the future and change accordingly.

Pam Astolfi


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