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Student View: Student Voices Matter in Grading Decisions

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Despite what many individuals, more specifically, the staff of Westerly High School think about the new grading policies, they have caused an uproar within the student body. As a junior at WHS, I have noticed that students are not only stressed about the workload a class may entail, but they are also stressed about how classwork, homework, quizzes, and tests are graded.

The initial idea of altering the grading policies arose when Steven Ruscito was principal during the years 2011-2015. These alleged new and improved grading policies, proved to be the exact opposite. After Mr. Ruscito, alongside the School Committee, decided to abolish the ePortfolio, which was a simple task utilized for several years, students’ grades became directly impacted – negatively.

With anchor tasks now being weighed in as 20% of a student’s final grade for each semester, the equivalent percentage of a student’s grade for a midterm or final exam, students are not only more stressed with the work itself, but also with the grade that could result from the given assignment.

It is completely unreasonable that such a tedious task, completed within only one, perhaps two, class days of work, accounts for 20% of a student’s grade. More important, the fact that together, the anchor tasks, midterm, and final exams combine for a total of 40% of a student’s final grade is irrational.

The idea of these two assignments being a principal part in deciding the final grade for each student places an unnecessary amount of stress on students, as it essentially could decide if a student will pass or fail.

I am not claiming that all aspects of this policy need to be abolished; however, I do think that the anxiety and overall emotional condition of the students need to be accounted for in the future to a much greater extent.

This is even more true, when referring to the school’s re-do policy, which in my opinion, is no longer a privilege, but a necessity. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that the time and effort put in to studying for any given assessment the first time around are essential, to an extent where the student who studies for hours on end and receives a good grade deserves that reward; however, I feel as if some teachers fail to recognize that students have bad days.

It is not uncommon for a student who typically maintains above a 4.0 GPA and receives mostly A’s for each given semester to have a few bad days. For instance as a junior, there are days I study for hours, even just for one class. On top of that, I have to balance homework in other classes, while also keeping up with sports. This does not mean I am incapable of studying to my best ability, because I am; however, sometimes the hours and hours of effort I put in to prepare for and execute a test, paper, or project do not always correspond to the grade I receive.

In other words, teachers who have restricted the re-do policy to the extent where students can no longer obtain full credit with the re-do, do not demonstrate a desire to help students excel.

I am certainly not trying to diminish those who do well the first time and do not need to use the re-do, but coming from a student’s perspective, it is not beneficial in any way to limit a student’s opportunity to earn a grade they want.

Similarly, I am not trying to shame teachers who reward those who do well the first time around, because it is known that there are some students who do not put in the effort necessary to obtain a “good grade” in the first place; however, I think it is essential for a balance between the student body and faculty to be struck, in order to allow those who have off days, to have a real second chance at succeeding.

And, yes, I do realize that grades are not what should determine the degree of a student’s desire to learn by working hard in school, but it has become the sad reality today that grades essentially shape each student’s future in the form of accessibility to good colleges.

In closing, it is essential for each student’s future that the grading policies be altered.   Hopefully the students’ opinions will be heard and accounted for, as they are essentially the element being effected by the school’s current grading policy– for the worst.

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Student View: Student Voices Matter in Grading Decisions