In my system of contract grading, my students write a final reflection at the end of the semester discussing their learning in the class. As part of this reflection, they are welcome to make a case for what grade they earned, although it’s wonderful to see how many choose not to. So many students write something like, “I will respect whatever grade you give me,” which belies the common view that students care about grades and nothing else.

This semester, one student — I’ll call him Yusef — argued that he had earned an A in the class. He wrote in his final reflection: