When it Comes to Education: Do Grades Really Matter?

Grades are simply one part of a big picture.

In simple terms, our education system uses grades to decide which students are the best and which student are mediocre. While I agree that grades do carry some weight in the determination of a student’s ability, I think grades are just a small indicator of what a student can do.

There are too many factors that affect a child’s grades to allow a grade to determine the abilities of a child. When the education system begins considering the factors that affect student academic ability and somehow weaves that into the final grade a child receives, then I’ll start giving grades more attention. Until then, I refuse to let a grade define my child or any child I teach.



Let me preface this by saying I love teachers. I respect teachers. I AM a teacher! Teachers are great, but teachers are human. They have their own experiences and opinions. Let’s face it, there will be students that teachers just don’t like or just don’t understand. These things can affect the way a teacher interacts with that student. It can also affect how a teacher grades a student’s assignments or how much time a teacher spends helping that student.


Some teachers have taught 20 years, but don’t have the ability of a first year teacher. Some teachers know how to connect with students and keep them engaged, while others are cold and robotic. Teaching is more than writing lessons and giving tests. It’s a big job ― far beyond what is taught in college education classes. My child has had teachers who simply reuse PowerPoint presentations year after year. Students end up teaching themselves by studying the slides. There was little engaged teaching going on.


Many classrooms are packed full of students and there are always a few students who have behavioral issues. If teachers don’t have good classroom management skills, teaching and learning can be near impossible.


A dysfunctional home environment can make completing homework a difficult task. Those issues can also carry over into school as students worry about their home situations. Some students don’t have parental support, no one to guide them or help them with homework. Things like financial issues and poor access to technology and food also affect a student’s abilities to perform well.


ADHD and ADD are just two of the most recognized diagnoses that affect student performance, but there are many others. Some students have issues that haven’t been properly diagnosed yet. Sometimes even with a proper diagnosis, students are given the support they need to work through the learning issues they have.


Sometimes students aren’t able to keep up with what’s being taught. Other times the content is just too hard for the student to grasp. This leans more toward a child’s ability. This is where a slower paced class might be necessary. It’s not that the child can’t do the work. They simply can’t do it at the given pace.


Poor motivation, lack of focus, and poor effort can lead to low grades. These things aren’t a sign of student academic ability. They are a sign that the student needs to learn life skills like time management, organization, responsibility, initiative, and effort.

All of these factors show that grades aren’t as important as we’ve been led to believe. Grades are simply one part of a big picture. No matter how much society pushes to you to judge your children’s value and ability on the grades he or she receives, don’t give in. Ask deeper questions that help find what other factors are affecting your child’s grades.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said...

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”

How much weight does your family put on grades? Share with us below.

This post was originally published on Helping Kids Rise and is reprinted here with permission. Follow along on Twitter for more!

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