Lucerne to become the first Swiss city to scrap school grades

Lucerne to become the first Swiss city to scrap school grades

Lucerne is set to become the first region of Switzerland to get rid of the traditional grading system in schools. Supporters of the reform argue that it will help better evaluate children at the primary, secondary and high school levels, though some worry that the new system will place more pressure on teachers.

Lucerne to scrap school grades from 2025

From the end of the school summer holidays in 2025, 19 primary schools in Lucerne will scrap the old school grading system entirely. The policy will be gradually expanded to include all secondary schools and Gymnasien in the city from 2026.

The old 1 to 6 scoring system famous (and infamous) among Swiss students will be replaced by the new “assessment framework concept.” Under this new system, instead of being awarded a numerical grade, students will be individually assessed to see if they did not achieve, partially achieved, achieved or exceeded in certain subjects and tests. Exam papers and essays will be assessed and given written feedback.

The only numerical grades that will remain are some overall grades at the end of semesters, as they are required by law and are crucial when applying to universities and other centres of higher education.

Non-numerical grades benefit student development, says teachers

Speaking to the Tages Anzeiger, teacher Pauline Briw, whose primary school in downtown Lucerne has trialled the system for five years, said that the “assessment system is more meaningful and does much more justice to the individual child than school grades ever could.” She said that it makes it easier for students to identify gaps in their knowledge and work towards more achievable goals.

“[Children] tend to do better in the report cards because they know more precisely where their weaknesses lie later in the year, and work on it specifically,” Briw added.

Headmistress Claudia Wedekind added that she “was sceptical at the beginning” of the trial but was now “very excited” that the system was rolling out city-wide. She noted that initial fears raised by teachers, such as the system leading to more heated discussions with parents over evaluations and more variation in grades, failed to materialise.

Lucerne grading system may lead to increased workload for teachers

Others are not so keen: Green Liberal Party National councillor and Riehen (Basel-Stadt) education commission member Katja Christ told the Tages-Anzeiger that she remains unconvinced about the change. “Nobody claims that grades are an exact science, but there are no convincing alternatives,” she argued, adding that the new system could lead to some students being treated unfairly by teachers.

Briw herself also noticed a few flies in the ointment, admitting that ditching numerical grades in favour of written feedback had significantly increased teachers' workload. She concluded that the system also has its flaws among parents who are still learning German and may not understand their child’s feedback.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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Jascha Kegelban 12:40 | 11 April 2024

So Grades are replaced with Words, brilliant. This will change nothing, but will show that some bureaucrats are working tirelessly to fain their relevance.