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Mark Siegel

Mark Siegel is assistant head at Delphian School in Sheridan, Ore., where he’s been since 1974. He has headed the Oregon Federation of Independent Schools since 1988 and served 25 years on the board of the Council for American Private Education. He's served on Oregon Department of Education task forces and helps public and private schools transition to proficiency-based student-centered models. He travels the country advocating for private education and for proficiency-based education, urging the shift from factory-model schools to more personalized, student-centered programs.

Some educators are growing skeptical of letter grades as distracting, stressful and motivators of cheating and sabotage. A better system for cultivating young minds might focus on unique skills and mastery of concepts.
Many educators argue that it’s time to retire the letter-grade system once and for all, because it’s inessential, subjective, needlessly competitive and a distraction from actual learning, among other things.
Even setting aside criminal charges that made headlines in 2019, the scramble by high school students to get into top colleges isn’t in their best interests, causing unnecessary stress that doesn’t fulfill their needs.
A global pandemic that upended the way school is taught should reinforce the need to create lifelong learners. Education today means teaching students to think about the future in new ways.
Instead of setting uniform class schedules under the assumption that all students will learn at the same pace and in the same way, schools might serve kids better by making time the variable and learning the constant.
As much as schools have adapted to COVID-19, their underlying one-schedule-fits-all educational model remains the same. A 1994 report, and several recent examples, hint at what could be changed for the better.