Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

April 23, 2010

Should The Grading System Be Replaced With IEPs?


    4-20-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST   

IEPs Versus Grades


Our thanks to Cheska Lorena @MissCheska for this week’s #edchat summary. Cheska is an avid edchatter and a great pioneer for the use of technology in education. (see bio at bottom of post) Thank you Cheska for this summary.

On Tuesday, 4/20/10, Twitters came together to discuss alternatives to the current grading system. The hot topic for the afternoon edchat: Can we create individualized education plans (IEPs) for all our students? Many tweeters agreed that the current grading system is ineffective, but while the thought of IEPs was very alluring, a majority of tweeters also acknowledged that IEPs in today’s learning environment might not be the sought-after cure. Like in most #edchat conversations, this Tuesday’s hour-long discussion peeled back and revealed the many layers of education and student learning.

 Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Individualized education plans (IEPs) have many benefits for students. When they are done right, they provide students with customized learning environments, modifications and accomodations. IEPs also require the involvement of students, parents, and teachers by allowing all to come together in one place, discuss students’ learning needs and solutions, and bring everyone to the same page.
  • Extending IEPs for all students seems unrealistic/impractical in today’s current educational settings: too many students, too little time and support.
  • Universal IEPs (UIEPs), while great in theory, might turn out to be more paperwork than meaningful change.
  • UIEPs might shelter students from the real world. How would IEPs fit in in a college/university environment?
  • Bigger changes in the current education system should be fixed before focusing on UIEPs. Should we look more into what is being taught in the classroom or focus more on how students learn?
  • Differentiated instruction, personalized education plans (PEPs), and portfolio assessments may be better solutions than UIEPs.
  • Can creativity be measured? Should it be measured and/or evaluated at all?
  • How is assessment different from testing? What do we measure in the first place?
  • If the current grading system was to be scrapped, what would the new system look like? Who would build it? (Choice A: Model after Finland school system! Choice B: Do away with grades! Choice C: Create #edchat environment for students! 🙂

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

 With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

@wmchamberlain: IEP’s are the only safe guard (excluding passionate teachers) that many of our students have to guarantee at least some education.

@esolcourses: Have used ILP’s, (individual learning plans) which are similar. Pro’s : good 4 students Cons: time consuming/extra paperwork burden.

@harrisonmike: The problem w/learning plans is that its more paperwork (or inputting info using computer program) – when can I plan lessons please? 

@Mamacita: 185 students, each of whom must be taught differently & given individual goals? No aides. No additional help. HOW?

@olafelch: The problem with this massive amount of individualised goals, is that the teachers need to be VERY consistent. Could be a problem.

@blairteach: There is REAL danger that UIEPs could just become one more paperwork time-sucker instead of meaningful documents.

@gericoats: I think if you try to simplify an IEP to the point that it is manageable for 100+ students, it is watered down and not useful.

@jswiatek: How would colleges accept IEPs? Without grades, how can universities accept/deny students?

@andycinek: If we individualize our educational system, we are not preparing students for real life interactions.

@mbteach: Education should be individualized, but IEP paperwork for each student is overkill.

@blairteach: I don’t actually think whether or not we use UIEP is the issue; the problems arise from current ways of assessing students.

@jswiatek: From my stdents: Grading system is broken but only because of the vast number of tests that are always given.

 @AngEngland: Much of our education system rewards good test-taking but not necessarily LEARNING.

@rkiker: I think teachers are already accomodating UIEPs if they are truly embracing DI and student centered environments.

@tbfurman: The presence of a rich diversity of electives is a type of IEP.

@CorinaFiore: I have developed some layered curriculum lessons to differentiate instruction. They worked well.

@malcolmbellamy: The alternative to grades is not overloading teachers with IEP’s to prepare but accepting their assessments.

@AtomiClint: What is the purest measure of education success? Readiness for the workplace? Personal stability and satisfaction?

@ededco: Constant assessment (NOT TESTING) = only way 2 appropriately individualize.

@EricTownsley: Could a good grading system be no grading system? or maybe a stadards grading system? 

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

Via @POWERORGmath: How do we generate student passion into creative outcomes? (Based on offshoot conversation on evaluating student creativity)

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

Todays #Edchat Topic: Should IEPs for every stdt replace today’s grading? http://ow.ly/1ANtE  Plz Join

DUMACORNELLUCIA: Related to IEP and #special needs see a project ,,Different , but equal ” #edchat http://bit.ly/d03DZR

DUMACORNELLUCIA: #edchat ,,Different , but equal ” partenership and collaboration between students with special needs in Europe http://bit.ly/bnrjde

olafelch: A useful link on SMART(ER) criteria. http://bit.ly/b9AMYy A good basis for assessment programs.

DUMACORNELLUCIA: #edchat , #education Gr8 twitter tools http://teacherluciandumaweb20.blogspot.com/2010/04/gr8-twitter-tools-part-1.html

andycinek: Thanks for another great #edchat I must run, but if you get a chance please check out my Tech integration plan http://bit.ly/az7cdp

cybraryman1: I’ve learned not all should have IEP, need to use more DI (http://bit.ly/bOWv96) & we have to revamp curriculum & grading system

pysproblem81: @olafelch I agree – but this is detailed here www.bit.ly/cpg6VM, www.bit.ly/bGgFF2,  http://bit.ly/dmSlb0 would like to C other side

web20education: very interesting twitter application – for you dear friends http://www.bubbletweet.com/channel/web20education/hdpis  members
Cheska Lorena (@MissCheska) is a self-described “twenty-something New Yorker, certified HS biology teacher, and a huge ed-tech enthusiast.”
Currently she is graduate student at The College of Saint Rose, where she is majoring in Curriculum & Instruction and Instructional Technology. Her professional interests are social media, teacher technology integration, and innovate new teacher professional development programs. Her blog is Teaching Miss Cheska.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!   

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.   

What do you think about IEPs as replacements for the grading system? Leave a comment!



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by rliberni: Latest #edchat summary (4/20 12.00 EST) posted Should The Grading System Be Replaced With IEPs?: http://wp.me/ptGdh-pX #education…

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — April 23, 2010 @ 2:14 pm | Reply

  2. Your article was most tweeted by English Language Teaching experts in the Twitterverse…

    Come see other top popular articles surfaced by English Language Teaching experts!…

    Trackback by Most Tweeted Articles by English Language Teaching Experts: MrTweet — April 25, 2010 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks for starting such a great discussion on other ways to use IEP and IEP goals. I’ve found a lot of interesting IEP goals and IEP examples at IEPgoals.net–lots of unique/SMART goals and objectives.

    Comment by Pam — January 25, 2011 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment Pam and the link. Many on the discussion will be pleased to have more information.

      Comment by rliberni — February 1, 2011 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

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