12 Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education

12 Crazy Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education | Future Education Magazine


The fundamental purpose of the Alternatives to letter grades in education is to inform students and their families of their performance, but this cannot be accomplished with only one sign.

Because learning is messy and understanding is highly dynamic and transient, a letter grade essentially says, “At this point, if I had to average all of your understanding, progress, success, and performance into a single alphanumeric character, it would be this.” However, this is an oversimplification of the situation.

Understanding is a hazy region that doesn’t make sense to parents, therefore they don’t want to hear about it. It all sounds like PR. That’s because it’s all up to interpretation. Complex. They have a valid desire to have everything simplified for them, but doing so at the expense of intellectual integrity undermines the effectiveness of education. Most parent-teacher conferences revolve on discussing students’ behavior, grades, and/or absences. Knowledge, originality, and curiosity are seldom examined, much alone the very important skills of evaluation, application, and transfer.

Here are 12 Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education;

1. Gamification

Badges, medals, points, XP, accomplishments, and other forms of gamification may highlight the nuances of learning, yet this notion has never caught on in most public school classes. A letter can’t hope to match the resolution and accuracy of such an approach, with all of its tools, techniques, and procedures. Alternatives to letter grades in education to turn studying into more of a fun activity.

12 Crazy Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education | Future Education Magazine

2. Live Feedback

Here, both oral and written comments are sent to students as soon as they are done. There will be no live scoring or iteration. There will be no numbers or letters, just comments.

The incident should be recorded audibly. or a video. Spread the word by broadcasting it live. Create a private audio file (or “podcast”) that parents may listen to with their kid in the car on the way to school. Live feedback for important learning goals is challenging and not sustainable for every assignment, but it is far more informative for all parties involved, and is therefore a legitimate alternative to the letter grade in certain cases.

3. Ungrading

Traditional grading is the first step in this process, followed by iterative revisions and eventual curation of the work. Over time, “worse” performance (as judged by students, classmates, families, and instructors) gives way to “better” work that is not graded. The purpose of grading is only to kick off the revision process.

4. A Continuous ‘Climate of Assessment

In this framework, the outcome of one evaluation informs subsequent evaluations. Not examinations but rather proofs. Rather of pausing to designate a letter, the procedure keeps on.

Reporting in this “environment of evaluation” would focus on things like successes, trends, strengths, potential development areas, rates of change, etc. Possible link to gamification (see #1) here.

5. Standards-Based Reporting

This Alternatives to letter grades in education isn’t much better than the previous ones, but it may make grading less open to interpretation since numbers are used instead of letters.

6. “So? So What? What Now?”

At the conclusion of each task, students are prompted to question themselves and the instructor, “So, So What?” This is a really bad time, what should I do? It’s similar to #4, but it’s up to the student to decide what to do next. You may now consider this project “completed.” Now:

7. Metacognitive Action/Reflection/Narrative/Anecdotal

This Alternatives to letter grades in education is complementary to #6. Instead of stopping learning with a letter-as-performance-indicator, students are asked to reflect on their thought process—not as a patronizing “tell the teacher what they want to hear” activity on an exit slip as they walk out the door, but rather as a gauge of their comprehension and intellectual development.

12 Crazy Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education | Future Education Magazine

This may have a metacognitive basis, be indicative of the learner’s progress through the material, or be more anecdotal in nature.

8. Digital Portfolios

By working together, student and instructor “curate the highlights,” a method that varies on the reflective and anecdotal approach to learning. Work that is based on a portfolio is not novel, and it has several downsides, including the fact that it is hard to objectively quantify particular talents and competences.

The evaluation of such undertakings is likewise very subjective. It can be taxing, it’s not always easy to align with standards, and if it’s not executed correctly, it tends to put the focus on the instructor rather than the student (because they’ll be the ones responsible for the project’s creation, management, organization, grading, etc.).

Although, no Alternatives to letter grades in education is foolproof, and all we’re doing here is coming up with ideas. And portfolios need to be included in at least some alternate grading system.

9. Pass/Fail

There is no intermediate grade; you either pass or fail. An option nevertheless, even if it’s not a very good one outside of the range of grades somewhere between an A and a D.

12 Crazy Alternatives To Letter Grades In Education | Future Education Magazine

10. P2P, S2S, or Mentor Collaboration

Get together with classmates from the same or other schools to honor your achievements in the realm of education. There is no need for grades; instead, early and consistent exposure to a wide range of peers should suffice. In addition to serving as a summative assessment at the conclusion of a course or unit, peer feedback may be strategically integrated into the learning process at several points.

11. Non-points-based Rubrics

Performance is still assessed against a rubric, but no grade or points are ever issued, making this system quite similar to the existing one. How a pupil ‘did’ is ultimately up to them and their loved ones. Instead of focusing on grading, teachers should be there for their pupils. It’s acceptable if students wriggle and writhe as they attempt to convert the rubric’s evaluation into a numerical grade.

12. Publishing

This Alternatives to letter grades in education was alluded to before; share your knowledge openly. It should be made public. Importantly, this need not intrude on students’ personal space. If you have any doubts, it’s best to check with your school’s administration, teachers, and parents before posting anything controversial. The aim is to have it be seen by the friends, relatives, and neighbors whose lives will be touched by the effort.

The process has become decentralized and, in a sense, democratic, allowing for peer collaboration on modifications, responses from families, and reactions from communities. Although not every student will benefit from this method, the premise is good: give power back to those who have it. In most cases, this strategy would not be appropriate.


Letter grades do not always prove to be convenient to rank the progress of students. Also, they can be discriminatory and create unnecessary pressure on them. Hence, after deep research, we have picked up 12 different Alternatives to letter grades in education. We believe you enjoyed knowing about them and implementing Alternatives to letter grades in education as a part of grading so that students will be encouraged to study harder.

Also read: Top 7 Ways EdTech Has Impacted Modern Education

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