If grades do not inspire, motivate, or communicate, then what do they accomplish? They rank and sort adolescents to be ranked and sorted teenagers to be ranked and sorted college students to be ranked and sorted professionals.
Perhaps change comes simply by asking one another what the purpose of the grades are in our classrooms. Perhaps asking that question of our administrative leaders is another place to carry on the conversation.
If we are being honest and if we are making informed decisions (what the research demonstrates), then we might someday creates schools focusing on what adolescents and teenagers can do...and be able to communicate it together.
How often do students and parents scratch their heads over what "the B" means? Rightfully so.
How often do students and parents engage with teachers over what the student can do completely disconnected from any value-judgement? If they aren't, they should start asking.
That discomfort education may feel will only come if people speak up: students, parents, and especially teachers. Going forward in silence about the state of grading in middle schools and high schools only sugar coats reality--a reality built on tradition, not research. No research exists that shows grading helps learning. It only ranks, sorts, and (worse) sugar coats--especially when students get an A. What is there left to talk about?