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There are only three stages of knowledge separating the states of blank-slate ignorance from genius-level subject mastery. That’s the position and policy of New Hampshire as it follows the recommendation of the New England accreditation body by mandating the replacement of a 100-point to a 1-5 grading system. The purpose, according to the Concord Monitor, is to “shift its academic criteria from traditional standards to broader competencies…rather than assessing knowledge of isolated facts and processes…”

This “is intended to strip grades of association with judgment so they become a tool of communication…” by “encouraging progress rather than marking achievement.”

How humane!

A Concord High School faculty member who is identified by title as “facilitator of the guidance department” explains, “It’s really trying to get away from value judging a student and getting toward where a student is at the time.”

Is Professor Irwin Corey in the house?

The aversion to “value judgment” and “assessing processes” (whatever that means), and the disdain for “isolated facts” (facts are never in isolation from relevancy to potentially valuable ideas) and “traditional standards” (like those met in the student days by those engineers on the ground who figured out how to rescue the Apollo 11 astronauts from being eternally stranded in space) is hardly suggestive of the “rigor” that is so often promoted as a goal.

Evaluating academic performance by means of withholding judgment of it is a comically subversive concept. And encouragement of progress by not “marking achievement” is a non sequitur.

Who is being served by our fooling ourselves?

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