Updated Grading Policy Pros/Cons

Rebekah Lindsay

On April 27th, Northshore superintendent, Dr. Reid announced an updated grading policy for all Northshore high schools—A, B, or incomplete— in order to satisfy the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s emergency rules that prohibit a pass/no-credit system for all high schoolers. 

In short, students have the opportunity to earn an A equivalent to a 4.0 or a B equivalent to a 3.0 by participating in engagement opportunities. Engagement opportunities include connecting with teachers by about a lesson, partaking in live discussions, activities, or chats on whatever platform the teacher uses, attending online classes or viewing recorded lessons, and completing assignments. Engaging in 2 or more of these methods for at least six weeks is worth an A. Engaging in 1 or more of these methods for at least 4 weeks is worth a B. Students who don’t meet the above criteria receive an incomplete.

Strange times call for forgiving measures. In some ways, the new grading system does just that. Junior Hannah Schlosser-Hall says, “It’s nice to know that you either get a good grade or a second chance.” Junior Katie Mcclatchey agrees and says, “The new grading policy is helping provide a fair system where the people who struggle to work at home don’t suffer from things outside of their control which is nicer.” Senior Tashmee S. agrees that “school is just not possible for some students with emotional and financial stress.” However, others call to question the fairness of the policy. Although it was created for the purpose of ensuring minimal inequities, some students do not believe the system is indeed equitable. Junior Jackson Shepard says, “It’s still not fair that people are able to receive an A for simply showing up while other people will still work hard to learn and receive the same output of an A.” As a whole this policy calls into question the extent to which grades reflect actual knowledge. Even though she says she has been less stressed since school moved online, Senior Sydney Wright says “[…] My grades don’t seem to matter, graduating this year, as much as they used to.” 

Because grades are non-reflective of actual understanding, many have lost an enthusiasm for learning. Senior Nathaniel Lee says, “I’m less motivated to do well.” Tashmee agrees that “Staying motivated for sure has been the most difficult thing about online learning.” She says, “It’s hard learning content without teachers in a school environment.” On the surface, Tashmee and Lee’s lack of motivation may seem like typical cases of senioritis; however, Juniors Shepard also admits to feeling this loss. Shepard says, “Staying motivated is extremely difficult.”

Additionally, students worry about the practicality of the updated grading practices. Shepard says, “ I see this more as a policy created from an outsider’s perspective of what might work, rather than what would legitimately be better for the students’ learning and success as a whole.” Moreover, he adds, “It confuses me, like the low bar for the quality of work will start to vary with each teacher right?” Tashmee expresses similar concerns. She says, “We [the students] didn’t get to put any input about this new grading policy. We all assumed it would be credit/no credit and then next thing you know they’re announcing a new grading system.” Mcclatchey agrees and says, “I don’t think [student] voices were heard- really,” however she maintains that, “they made a fairly good decision overall.” 

 

We may not have had an adequate say in the matter, yet given the strict guidelines the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction gave the district to follow, the resulting policy is arguably one of the best possible outcomes. In these abnormal times we have to be flexible. For students willing and able to put in the work, an A is achievable.