Getting Beyond G.P.A.

By now, it’s common knowledge that Acton Academy does not use traditional grades or report cards. Yet there are still days when I want the gratification of a simple G.P.A.  “Please just tell me how my child is doing in terms I understand.”

And then I read something like this and I remember the destructive power of the G.P.A. and why we slammed the door on it when we created Acton.

We have chosen to build an entire learning model grounded in the narrative of Hero’s Journey. Why? To call up the deep longing we all have to find our gifts and use them to make a difference in the world. A 6-year-old feels it and a 90-year-old feels it.

Along the way, we measure milestones of learning several times within each school year through portfolios, exhibitions in front of an audience, 360 reviews by peers and badges which showcase the accomplishment of complex challenges.

More importantly, perhaps, is that this learning happens while a spotlight shines on the “Three Questions” hanging on the walls of the studios. While most people tragically wait until their deathbed to ponder these questions, our children face them every day as part of their learning:

  • Was I a good person?
  • Did I contribute something meaningful?
  • Whom did I love and who loved me?

I am confident that going beyond a G.P.A. is what I want for my children. In addition to learning the core disciplines of a fine education and learning how to learn and to be, they are figuring out what they really, really, really want for their lives. And this longing will lead them directly to the grit and resilience to make their dreams come true. I cannot wait to watch it unfold.