Why grades are not an important marker of intelligence?

Off late, there has been a more refined conversation about children in primary schools experiencing stress, or stress like symptoms. We looked up a couple of studies for the purpose of this article and a lot of the studies we came across didn’t find enough evidence to support the claim that students are stressed.

Stressed out Asian girl biting a pencil while looking at her laptop
Are students really stressed? (Image source: Pixabay)

According to one researcher, the findings could be skewed since stress is not something that we typically associate with children. However, when researchers in Iran ran a study to comprehend school readiness in students from grade 5 to grade 8, they noticed an alarming amount of students complaining about physiological factors that deter their attentiveness in class like headaches, tiredness, restlessness and some cases, low levels of energy. 

This is atypical to children in those categories since their bodies are still young and are ideally supposed to have reserves of energy for days. As adults reading this, we are in a better position to identify all these classic symptoms as manifestations of stress. So, why are children stressed in school? Among the many answers we zeroed in on, one stood out for us: performance anxiety. Imagine little children spending their learning years stressed in school simply because the standardized system requires them to display their abilities in numbers? It is simply unfair and here’s why we believe that marks have nothing to do with a child’s ability or intelligence.

1. Standardized testing discounts diverse areas of intelligence:
The academic systems in most countries rely on grades that are collated for universally standardized subjects. For instance, Maths and Science. It is a poor reflection of a child’s ability to be tested for only Maths, Science subjects when they could be exemplary at Art.

Student reading a math question paper
(Image source: Pixabay)

2. Based on limited study:
The education system has another problem – it only tests students based on their ability to learn by rote. Every child learns differently and unfortunately, school boards don’t have time to test every student based on their learning styles.

3. We do not test for interest or passion:
Intelligence is often referred to as the ability of a person to learn and update their existing knowledge base. It doesn’t mean the ability to learn Science, Maths, Social Science alone. Children perform better in subjects they have a natural affinity for and this could be based on a lot of factors including how well a teacher teaches a particular subject.

4. Does not prioritise comprehension:
The exam system tests a student’s ability to replicate material on paper. There is an elementary problem with this system since examinations are designed to test how much students can learn by rote. This is also the reason why students tend to forget concepts since they study only with the aim of passing examinations without keying in the concepts for fundamental understanding.

List of passed students.
(Image source: Pixabay)

5. Discounts external factors that could potentially influence grades:
None of us performs at our most optimum when we are unwell or stressed. Examinations are inherently stressful. Stress, fatigue, performance anxiety, general ill-health are all factors that affect a student’s ability to perform and if we judge them without taking into account these factors, we are giving them a lifetime’s worth of stress and insecurity.

Having said all of this, it is not our intention to discourage students from taking initiative and studying. Doing well in school is extremely important, but that doesn’t come above the importance of learning. Students get one chance at schooling and they should worry about learning instead of scoring in exams. Once they are encouraged to learn in class through various creative activities, they are automatically put in a place where they also perform. So, as parents and educators, we must reflect on improving teaching techniques instead of improving student grades. Chances are, your ward will perform better when the emphasis is removed from examinations and placed on learning.

What do you think about examinations? Leave a comment on this blog post and let us know your opinions.

What is the best solution for Formative Assessments?

We have all been part of an academic ecosystem that made exams feel like the apocalypse. We learnt to hate examinations and dreaded that time of the year schools would shut for terminals. It only mattered if you scored 90% or more or came in the top three. Everybody else passed and reached the next level.

Student solving an imagery question
What do you think about exams?

In all fairness, Summative Examinations are not the marker of great student potential. Most education systems are built around the premise of training students to be exam-oriented. No remediation is offered to students who score average or below class average marks since the objective is to either pass or make it to the top three.

If you’re in the top 3, you require no attention or additional coaching. If you’re below the class average, you have to be thankful you passed. If you’re in the class average, you can make the choice of aspiring for the top 3 or be at great risk of slipping further. In this rat race, examinations have somehow become the only priority for teaching instead of it being a framework to target a student’s learning lags. That is why we have decided to intervene, to disrupt this rather ineffective, time-wasting model, by championing Formative Assessments.

We need to first understand what Formative Assessments or FAs are. Simply put, FAs have a diagnostic role in academics in that they are short examinations either after a chapter or a unit, that displays learning lags and helps teachers reflect on each child’s problem areas which in turn, helps them curate better teaching strategies. Let us quickly look over the advantages of FAs:

  1. Regular, short assessment models have proven to give better student results
  2. Have proven to improve student motivation because of its highly learning-driven approach
  3. A foolproof feedback system of a teacher’s ability to teach and a student’s learning gaps
  4. Creates more engaged students as they see their struggles being remediated and closed
  5. Makes learning goals more defined and a lot more achievable to students

Now, here’s how Class Saathi has championed FAs:

  1. Our working model: We have designed a unique intervention program that uses FAs as a stop-gap method to create more access for students who need support over affirmations.
  2. Our assessments: Are all short, multiple-choice questions that have concepts at the core instead of full chapters. Each question comes with a solution and a video tutorial for a student to use, to review their own performance and learn better.
  3. Data-driven and real-time: A student loses no time or opportunity to learn from their assessment results since they are calculated immediately and have demonstrative solutions to address the problems.
  4. Time-saving for both students and teachers: Institutions dread having an FA model as it requires more effort and work from teachers. This burden is lifted from teachers since Class Saathi provides an endless reserve of quizzes designed by some of the leading minds in the country. With quality assured and the burden eliminated, teachers are now free to address student problems without stressing about grunt administrative work.
  5. Transparency: The student results are free from manipulation as the scores are automated. This eliminates any space for teacher-student bias from the learning space.
  6. Creates awareness among various stakeholders: FAs are only successful if all the major parties involved in learning are connected through this model. Class Saathi brings together all the teachers, students, parents and administrators in one place. All three parties of facilitation can now target their efforts towards a shared goal: the student!
  7. Eliminates fear: Summative Assessments provides scope for students to be judged by their class performance. With the FA system, Class Saathi creates a safe practise space for students to be in charge of their learning without any fear of judgement from peers, teachers, parents or admins. This is because, with Class Saathi, the objective is clearly stated. Assessments are for learning and not of learning!

We truly feel that Class Saathi can be a great product for students. What we also believe is that it is a blessing for teachers and administrators since we reduce their administrative burden. With Class Saathi, they have all the time in the world to focus their efforts on what they ideally should – each and every student!

If you’d like to learn more about how Class Saathi works, check out these videos from our YouTube channel:
How Class Saathi Connects All Stakeholders https://youtu.be/blbgwLGGTy0
Virtual Assessments with Class Saathi https://youtu.be/Dq-CvgnyKXU
Class Saathi Homework Solution https://youtu.be/e744_5GUPGg
& Class Saathi Monitoring Solution https://youtu.be/4oLQBo9OzXg
or email us at [email protected] to discuss the best option for you!