Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Letter for Colleges (from a grade-free high school)

Alfie Kohn shared this letter that a grade-free high school could write to colleges.

We at ______________ High School believe our graduates are uniquely qualified to take advantage of what your institution of higher learning has to offer because they are interested in what they will be able to learn rather than in what grade they will be able to get. By the time they leave us, our students have grown into scholars, and that's due in large part to the absence of traditional ratings. Students in other schools spend much of their time and mental effort keeping track of their grade-point averages, figuring out what is required for an A and then doing only that and no more. At ___________, that time and energy are devoted exclusively to encountering great ideas and great literature, using the scientific method, thinking like an historian or a mathematician, and learning to speak and write with precision. Our students not only think clearly - they take joy in doing so . . . precisely because their efforts have not been reduced to letters or numbers. 
The enclosed transcript includes a wealth of other information about the applicant - a descriptive list of the courses s/he has completed and the special projects and extracurricular activities s/he has undertaken, as well as what selected members of our staff have to say about the student as a thinker and as a person. We believe that these data, together with the personal essay you may request and the interview we hope you will conduct, will give you a rich and complete portrait of this applicant such that a list of grades would add little in any case.


  1. Our school has be unencumbered by grades for the past 44 years. The Metropolitan Learning Center in Portland is a public K-12 school that believes in the power of student work to show growth and achievement. Our graduates have attended the best schools in the nation on the strength of those portfolios.

  2. Ned may I email you to discuss your school further? I am very interested.

    My email:

    1. Joe
      I have sent my contact info to your email.


  3. I'm very interested in learning about yor school asessment practices too Ned. Î' ll search for your name on the web site for your school.

  4. Other college preparatory secondary schools that do not issue grades include Carolina Friends School (NC), Poughkeepsie Day School (NY), St. Ann's School (NYC), and the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School (MA).


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