Rome, the high school without grades. The expert: «It should work like this in all schools»

No numerical ratings, no grades. To the Morgagni high school in Romean experiment started seven years ago (now extended to an entire section): the students are interrogated and carry out verification tests, but they are not evaluated with a number: the teachers explain to them what there is to do to improve and on which aspects it would be good to work more. There are already two classes of graduates with the super experimental system.

But does this model really work? We talked about it with Matteo Lancini, psychologist, psychotherapist and president of the Minotaur Foundation from Milan. «I am absolutely in favor of this method. For at least 30 years, since I have been working with schools, there has been an awareness of how important evaluation is and how much it is the numerical vote is reductive. Which, even if it is quite comfortable for teachers to use, cannot express the complexity of a serious evaluation».

Why, then, are so few schools using this method?
«Because many teachers think that, without the possibility of using grades and failings, the figure of the teacher loses authority. In reality, the opposite is true: the evaluations that are really needed are the articulated ones, which explain to the student what are the weaknesses to work on. Without fueling the competition, which instead, in Italian schools, is promoted from elementary school».

By abolishing voting, isn’t there a risk of removing a point of reference?
“Yes, but only to teachers. A student is more disoriented by an aseptic number than by an explanation of his individual performance, which instead shows him the way to improve ».

Morgagni’s experimental classes were considered, by the other students, the sections “where time is wasted”, the less rigorous ones.
«What rigor is there in giving a 5 or a 7? It’s much more tiring, serious and challenging to assess kids’ areas of weakness and spend time trying to understand their strengths. The great teachers and the great directors of the educational offices have always had this in mind: a school should be run without grades and without failures, because they are useless and have very high social costs. They are sanctioning weapons, which actually take away the meaning of the role of the teacher”.

Isn’t there the risk of creating a school that is too “easy” by taking away grades?
«Not giving the vote does not mean accepting any performance. If a student does not know how to deal with the question well, the teacher can make him go back to studying, and then question him again. Even without sentencing the vote with a number, severe things can be said when necessary. Which, however, must be valid as an explanation to understand how it is necessary to work».

Morgagni students say they are more serene.
«Research confirms an extraordinary correlation between school well-being and learning success. Obviously, even in a school without grades, students can get stressed, but at least they don’t feel in competition with their classmates, or failures because they got a 4».

Of course, in this way, it becomes a more complex school to manage.
«School is the most important place of all, where children build the future and the meaning of life: it is right that it is complex and articulated».

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Rome, the high school without grades. The expert: «It should work like this in all schools»