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Why we need to get rid of Honour Roll

As our Admin Team are circulating around presenting term 1 honour roll to all the A and B students in the building, I have a thought about why we need to stop doing honour roll until the end of the year.


  1. Most of us at WGSS have shifted to cumulative marking. To take a snapshot of the “learning” thus far and say that it is worthy of recognition is backwards thinking. We should only be recognizing the end product of the totality of the learning and that is in June
    1. Also a lot of teachers allow retests, redos, revisions etc. throughout the year and at the time honour rolls are pulled after the reporting period we may not have had the opportunity to change the marks etc. Every student learns at different speeds (hence the push for differentiation) and it is both not fair and defeatist if we take the snapshot throughout the year rather than once at the end.
  2. We are creating a culture of achieving rather than a culture of learning.
    1. By rewarding a mark, we are not motivating any students to do better, learn deeper and spend the time improving themselves if we push grades at them (and then reward them based on these grades). With the new BC curriculum being implemented and less focus on content, we need to change the mindset to create the culture of learning – and that message won’t get out until we stop honour roll every term and put the focus on the learning done all year.
  3. It will create resilience, grit, empowerment and engagement
    1. It will create resilience as the goal is honour roll – they know they have all year to achieve it and that it is a one time recognition (and thus means more).  They will seek multiple chances to redo/revise to show their understanding and as a result they will have a better understanding of the info; ultimately shifting to a culture of learning
    2. Grit – as above – they will learn that continued effort, hard work and the drive to the end goal is the key….and along the way learning happens
    3. Empowerment – will lead to students taking initiative and make decisions on their own (likely to redo/revise work). This is done by giving students the skills, resources, opportunity and motivation they need to be successful in the future. This is only done when we remove the focus on grades and shift it to learning. Empowerment leads to motivation which creates engagement of the students and that is when learning happens. Right now we are working on equation that motivated students = smart = honour roll.

The counter argument that I have heard the most to keep honour roll is that we must continue to motivate students to do well and that seeing their peers get this recognition will motivate those not on honour roll to try harder to get on.  Again, this is backwards thinking and we are perpetuating the culture of achieving and relying on grades as a motivator.  The only way to motivate the unmotivated is to empower them (see blog posts Innovation = Engagement and Lessons to Empower Students).  It is time that Administrators and Councilors stop equating success to a number and instead focus success on the growth of the student.

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