I hear you. We are experiencing what Jerry Muller has called a “metric fixation.” It’s really hard to imagine anything different. Even my high school students seem to place the highest value on letter grades, SAT/AP Test scores, and GPA/Class Rank.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that we would experience something of an existential crisis — a crisis of meaning and purpose — if these “scoreboards” were ever taken away and we were left with an empty horizon. At bottom, I think we’re quite literally terrified at that prospect, and more than we’re willing to admit. So instead, we double down on metrics, a source of meaning and value that is demonstrably inequitable, unreliable, invalid, and a huge driver of stress and burnout in teachers and students alike.
I actually wrote a thing about this if you’re interested. Thanks for the thoughtful response!