Do grades measure intelligence?

January 25, 2023

According to senior Sophia Earle, grades accurately showcase student academic achievement but aren’t a measure of intelligence. 

“Grades can be a good measure of academic performance, but they do not directly measure intelligence,” Earle said. “Grades often show my dedication to grow academically, (but) a grade only shows one part of my life — academics. Intelligence is not solely about academics. It is also about unique individual learning experiences.”

English teacher Andrew Carlson said test results can be disappointing for students, and don’t accurately show what a student can bring to the table. Carlson said students coming from middle school are often discouraged after a negative experience on a test. 

“I’ve had students who had a bad score on an MCA test or an AP test and when they come in, they think they’re dumb,” Carlson said. “(They don’t) realize that a test is a snapshot of one day, one moment in time.” 

Junior Hanna Wilsey said she feels Park’s grading system only reflects a student’s ability to excel in academic settings. 

“A grade should be a reflection of your intelligence, but our school is set up so that your grade is less of a reflection of what you know and more of a reflection of you can do school,” Wilsey said. 

According to social studies teacher Scott Miller, a change in traditional grading may be an effective way to measure student ability, but switching from conventional grading to a new method may affect how colleges see students and read their transcripts. 

“The danger about not having more of a traditional form of grade is: what does that do to students who are trying to go on to maybe a hard four-year college, and how would that be measured and compared to a student that went to a different high school?” Miller said. “That’s the only thing I would worry about.”

Many students will try and get as many points as they can to get an A in the class without actually absorbing any of the information or learning more about the topic, according to Carlson. He said part of the reason students are so hard on themselves is the unhealthy environment in schools. 

“Part of the problem with the environment that has been created (in education) is that there’s a lot of students that are so focused on the number of points that they’re getting that they’re less focused on what they’re learning,” Carlson said. “You cannot learn without failure.”

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