Future grading system will impact students

Macy Sanchez, News Editor

Malcolm Forbes said, “the purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” Day in and day out, OHS teachers and staff cultivate an environment in which students can flourish and learn to the best of their ability. Dedicated staff give students opportunities to expand their minds each day.

At school, a student’s main concern should not be outranking their peers or focusing on receiving a perfect grade. The objective of school, simply put, is to learn, not to achieve perfection. It is that high standard of excellence that many students place upon themselves, that leads to a crippling amount of stress.

“I don’t think school is worth the stress,” said Amelia Long, sophomore. “I think students put a lot of extra stress on themselves because teachers want them to pass those tests, and kids get super stressed about doing well, and that is not good for your mental health.”

School should not be a place of stress, it should be a place dedicated to teaching students and encouraging them to work hard and do the best they can.

“I am kind of a nerd, so I actually like school, I enjoy learning. I am actually taking a full day as a senior, and that is because I enjoy learning. I really like the social aspect of school. School really helped me get out of my shell,” said Julia Edelson, senior. “I always like to challenge my mind and constantly be learning, whether it is about myself or any other thing. I really like broadening my mind.”

OHS is made up of students who enjoy learning, but that desire to learn is often blocked by a greater desire to impress others and be the best. In an attempt to rid the mind of the idea of perfection and rewire the way students think about their grades, a new grading scale will be implemented within the next few years.

“We are hoping to move to a grading scale that gets away from one to 100. When you think about it, there is 50 percent that correlates to an F, and only 10 percent that corresponds to D, C, B, and then A,” said Robin Naylor, Spanish teacher. “That strikes us [teachers] as not making sense.”

Rather than a precise numerical grading scale like is used now, the grading scale will be much more rubric based and will align with specific standards for each classroom. The grading will include numbers one through four.

“In our Spanish classes we have a standard like: students will be able to describe themselves. So we look at the standard and say, a four would be students can do this all of the time without help. Three would be students can do this some of the time, but with help,” Naylor said. “A two would be they can do it some of the time with a lot of help, and a one would be they can’t do it at all.”

Although the current grading scale does the job, it can be problematic. The grading scale used now assesses how many errors you make, and not your overall understanding of the standard. This makes it hard for students to improve and even understand what it means to receive an A.

“As a student it will be kind of nice because you can look at it and say, ‘I know I’m at a three, this is what I need to do to get to a four.’ Whereas I think sometimes we can say, ‘I got a 95 on an essay,’  but what does that really mean? The new grading scale will eliminate that confusion,” Naylor said.

Along with not understanding how to improve, the current grading scale creates a great deal of competition between students. Most students are no longer satisfied with receiving an A, they need to be at the top of the class to truly feel that they have succeeded. That competition amongst students is counterproductive.

“Sometimes students compete with each other, and that is not healthy. I think it is better if students work collaboratively. Let’s all make sure we get this stuff, versus ‘what did you get? I got a 94. And I got a 95.’ What is the difference between the kid who got a 94 and the kid who got a 95,” Naylor said. “There is not much of a difference in terms of what they know. There is no difference between students who have a four.”

This new grading scale will allow students and teachers to turn their focus to what they are actually learning, versus gaining points.

“I can’t tell you how many times I hear students say ‘I just need one more point.’ Let’s not talk about points, let’s talk about what skills you need to master so that you can be at a four,” Naylor said.

As always, this is going to take some time to adjust to. Next year will be the trial year, and the year after, the new grading scale will start officially.

“How we execute that is going to be pretty complicated. The pilot year will let us work out the kinks. I think it will be pretty stressful at first. Anytime we try something new, there is some stress involved,” Naylor said. “Once we get in the groove, I think students and teachers are going to like it a lot better. It is going to be challenging, but it will be better in the end.”