The difficulty with narratives rather than grades

How do you assess without grades?  It seems like, as an individual professor among many other professors, it would be impossible to do this 100%, and really, truly eliminate grades, especially when functioning in a larger system that demands that ranking.  If an individual teacher wants to do that, the entire system must support it.  Are there universities that have eliminated grading altogether?

I understand the desire and necessity to eliminate grading and ranking, but how can employers or admissions boards really assess an individual without some kind of a quantified or standardized measurement system?  Narratives sound like a great solution, but how can an employer know that my narrative, as the evaluator/educator, is the most accurate assessment of an individual, and someone else’s narrative, a different evaluator/educator, is less representative?  No two different individuals can write the same narrative or endorsement, nor should narratives or endorsements from two different individuals be interpreted in the same way.

Another way of thinking about this is the practical implication of what happens when two equally qualified students are vying for the same spot at an undergraduate or graduate university.  How can anyone tell from two different narratives or recommendations that one student is truly more qualified than the other?  One student could have enlisted a more eloquent writer, a more convincing advocate, for them than the other student.  Does that mean this student should be accepted to a university while another student of the same caliber, who may not have as shiny a recommendation, should not get accepted?