Reese Still Going Gradeless


Humanities Department Co-Chair teaches AP English Language. Photo by David Cutler.

Humanities Department Co-Chair teaches AP English Language. Photo by David Cutler.

Last year, Humanities Co-Department Chair Donald Reese rejected the traditional letter-based grading system, instead introducing a feedback-based system to reduce stress and promote engagement.

Reese teaches Power, Justice, and Revenge and Comedy in Literature and Film, new elective offerings for juniors and seniors, as well as two sections of AP English Language and Composition, his only course that retains the letter-based grading system.

“I would rather see a student put in the work and learn and succeed instead of trying hard only to earn a grade ant then forget the material,” Reese said.

In a March 7, 2018 article, Catherine Leeder ’20 said that this system “decreased [her] stress,” and that detailed feedback on papers helped her to realize her strengths and weaknesses as a writer. This year, students echoed Leeder’s sentiments.

“I believe I worry about grades often,” Ella Meranus ’20 said. “For most high school students, grades have always been more stressful than helpful. I think that if students had a say and their grades and could discuss with their teachers, they would worry less about getting the highest score and focus more on learning the material.”

Before major marking periods, for which the School requires grades, Reese meets with students, who assess their performance.

“I really like the grading system because the grade reflects how much work you do in the class,” Ry Black ’19 said. “Dr. Reese sits down with you; meeting with the teacher helps you be more organized,” Black said.

So far, Reese is the only teacher at the School who has implemented this grading system into his curriculum.

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