This article also quoted here is talking about the invention of grade scales and says:
Getting to know his students, one may suppose, was too much trouble for Farish [who invented grades]. It meant work, interacting and participating daily with each child.
I am getting quite sick of this (alert: ranting). A while ago I posted about the esteemed Reigeluth on assessment only to find out that the reasons he gave for the forms of assessment he opposed were plain incorrect.
In most disciplines we need to investigate and reference the claims we make and it is not normally considered good academic practice to make up reasons for the beliefs and activities of those we disagree with just to prove ourselves right.
Exams, grading, academic transcripts may be poor means of assessing and reflect an educational philosophy we disagree with. But we should not be allowed to make up what their inventors thought just to prove how right we are.
The probability that this fellow who invented grading (and considering how widespread grading is, he can't be entirely to blame for our systems) did so to avoid getting to know his students is preposterous.
[The probably-real reasons are far less important, but are also complex and relate to wider developments, like how everything needed to be documented, a file on everything, "objective" means of comparing developed - especially means of comparing that would eliminate comparison on the basis of class. Grading can be seen in so many different ways. Imagine a society that for whatever reason, say, recruitment for public service positions, sees the need to rank people. In their "bad old days" it had been the person from the family with the best connections, the most money, the marriageable daughter or whatever. Lets say we want to rank people according to how good they are ... etc etc
Oh dear, maybe these things won't support the criterion referenced assessment workshop I'm giving tomorrow.....]