On the first day of school, there are many things on the mind of a student, like seeing their friends after a long time, and meeting their new teachers. One thing no one expected to hear was that last year’s open grading policy everyone was used to was overhauled into a uniform policy. While in the past, teachers were allowed to set their own weightings for grade breakdowns, now every teacher must use a 60%, 30%, 10% policy. Minor assignments like homework and quizzes are now worth 30% of the grade, and class participation is only worth 10%. Tests and major assessments remain a significant portion of the final grade at 60%.
Several teachers and students told us what they about the radical change. “I would say not to worry. I feel like the types of assessments that teachers are giving aren’t going to change that much,” Mr. Anderson said. “All it has done is just publicize what the grading policy is going to be, for everybody in the school, so we could have more uniformity… I think a lot of the grades are pretty much going to be around the same.” Several other teachers seemed to say things along these lines. “I’m not going to put any different emphasis on assignments. It simply means that I will have to keep a little bit closer track of certain assignments, so that I can include them in the grade,” explained Shantanu Saha. Another teacher agreed. “I don’t think it will change it too much. In the past, homework probably accounted for somewhat more in my class then it will now, but I think students that do all the homework and get good grades on homework will get good grades on major assignments.” A third, anonymous teacher also said something along these lines. “This has been my grading policy for a long time. I’m also glad that it’s a universal grading policy as opposed to confusing the heck out of the kids.” Several seventh graders, to whom this had not been a change, said they felt it was fair. “I think it makes it easier for everything to be more uniform and not mixed up,” said one seventh grader. “I don’t think I really care,” claimed another from 7-4, and his friend agreed. “It was the same thing at my old school, so it’s not really a big change.”
But as with any policy change, there is always criticism. Some students were not as happy about the policy’s potential effect on their grade. “I think it depends on who you are,” claims Aoife Kenny ’20. “Like if someone is really into talking or participating in class, and they love to participate and they have things to say, but they’re not that great at writing, it could make their grade worse, and if someone is better at writing than they are at speaking than it will improve their grades greatly. I think it’s kind of unfair towards some students.” There were minor worries from the teaching staff as well. “The main thing I worry about with this new policy is that with seventh graders, by the time that progress reports come in, I do not have a large enough sample size on major assessments to base my grading in the proportion that is specified here,” Shantanu explained. “So I generally weight homeworks and small assignments more for that particular progress report because by then, I may not even have the second unit project graded; so I may not have enough information to fairly grade students at sixty percent major assessments. Their grade might be unfairly low or… it might be artificially high. So if I were to use this new grading system entirely for the spring progress report for the seventh graders there might be some anomalies that will have to be corrected after I have more data.”
Sr. Giraldo says he hopes the policy will last for a while. “I think Ms. Johnson wants us to reinforce this policy so it stays for good, because I think she was sick and tired of getting complaints from parents,” he said. “It’s one uniform policy; for science, foreign language, humanities, English, etc., and so the parents will get used to that. I think it will work out. I hope so.”
For the most part, BSGE’s new grading policy hasn’t received too much negativity. There should always be room for change, and a uniform policy will make it easier for students to navigate the new school year and understand their expectations.