New grading system will hurt students, not help them

By Tiger Björnlund

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When MCPS first polled its teachers about eliminating final exams, it received overwhelming opposition to the plan. Months later, MCPS surveyed its teachers again about changing the grading system, and received even stronger opposition. Both of these plans were implemented anyway.

The Board of Education decided to pass a new grading system May 10, ignoring the feedback and concerns of teachers across the county. The new system will involve an averaging system for grades that will likely end up hurting students more than helping them.

MCPS should listen to its teachers and students, and reverse the new grading system.

The new system will cause grade inflation to skyrocket, making high grades less meaningful on a student’s transcript. Students can slack off in one quarter, knowing they will still get an A for the semester without having to worry about cramming to learn the material for a final exam.

The new system rounds grades up; an A in either quarter paired with a B in the other results in an A for the semester, meaning that students only need to try for a higher grade in one quarter each semester. The system is also generous for more extreme grade differentials, such as the A and D combination that produces a B for the semester.

Allowing students to slack off isn’t fair to those who haven’t under the current system and won’t under the future system. Determined students will continue to get high grades, but those grades will be much less meaningful when more people are getting them, especially in the eyes of colleges, who will assume that As are no longer an indicator of intelligence and hard work.

I’ve worked as hard as any Whitman student to get good grades, and it’s unfair that anyone can now get those same grades without the same amount of effort.

Another issue with the new system is that it may force teachers to make classes harder. They will intentionally withhold As in the first and third quarters, knowing that it may be the only way to force students to try in second and fourth quarters.

Despite these issues, MCPS claims that the new system will only result in minimal changes to the current system and calls the changes “fair, consistent, and understandable” on its website.

However, the system will result in drastic changes, and not necessarily for the better. The letter grade averaging system results in a lack of differentiation between different students’ grades within a letter. A student who averages a 98 percent grade will get the same A as a student who averages an 85 percent grade. Yes, you read that right. The smart, hard-working student who gets 98s in both quarters will get the same grade—with the same prestige and the same GPA points—as the kid who coasts to an 89.5 and a 79.5.

Though this problem exists under the current system, the new system will only exacerbate the issue. It allows much larger sections of students to get the same grade on paper, ignoring the fact that some students have put in significantly more effort.

While MCPS is attempting to help students and teachers, it is merely putting in place an unfair system that will ultimately hurt its students.

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