Teaching: New Views on Grades

Schools use the word grade in two quite different senses: as a chronological measurement of class levels and as a mark of student performance. By coincidence, there is now a small but growing trend to drop grades—in both senses. One out of four large-sized school-districts combines first, second and third grades into a single primary unit. Children learn at their own fast or slow pace without competing to hurdle the artificial barrier of promotion, and the only mark they get is the deliberately vague judgment of "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory."

Detroit public schools...