When (Are) Grades Important?

Online school due to COVID-19 has been for many students (and their parents) a difficult experience, resulting in lower grades than they are used to. The question is: does it matter?

In this video I discuss grades based on the different stages of a student’s academic life. For those at the end of high school (grades 11 and 12) their marks are often used for early acceptance to post-secondary programs. Therefore, their grades are important.

For a student in grade 4, 6, or 8 though, the actual number they get at that point in time likely has no impact on what they will do after high school. Therefore, focusing too much on the grade itself can be counterproductive. The anxiety and stress generated by focusing on marks can actually make it harder to get good grades.

There are many students that have developmental and mental health challenges like ADHD, anxiety, and Autism. For may of these students online learning was even harder. Focusing on grades in an environment where good grades may not have been possible will only lead to higher anxiety.

I argue that the focus for most students and parents needs to be on work ethic and dealing with challenges, and not the mark itself. If a student is struggling in the early grades, they may be able over the next few years learn to learn better. This student can by the end of high school, when their actual marks do count, be very successful. Because they did not focus on marks, they were able to put their energy into better ways to learn. They avoided a lot of the anxiety that hyper-focusing on grades can create and were more successful because of it.

Check out my companion video that discusses Online Learning and why it can be so hard.

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