"The Report Card" by Andrew Clements demonstrates the often debilitating effects the arbitrary nature of the grading system, especially standardized testing, can have on children. Clements' novel is about an elementary school girl, a natural genius, who deliberately gets bad grades on her report card to prove that intelligence and test scores do not always match.
The main character in "The Report Card" is Nora Rowley, a precocious girl who taught herself Spanish and takes online college astronomy courses. From a very young age, she remembered and analyzed everything and knew she was smart, much smarter than her brother and sister and her friends. However, Nora hid her intelligence because she wanted to fit in with the rest of her peers. In fourth grade, when she observed her good and kind friend, Stephen, become distraught over his poor grades and low test scores, she decided to get all Ds on her report card and average scores on the state standardized test. She thought it was unfair that Stephen, and her other classmates, thought their test scores were not representative of what they knew; they just tested poorly. Nora's story forces teachers and school administrators to look closely at the way grades are determined and the effects scores have on students' self-esteem.