Grading system enforces false illusions

EMMIE CATRAMBONE, Entertainment Editor

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College work is generally cumulative with minimal exams during the the semester and concluding with a final exam that reflects material mastered. This kind of assessment works in that kind of environment because students have fewer total classes per semester and more concentrated time to process information. The average high school student is taking 8 classes, leaving them with less time to prepare and learn the material. Therefore, there is a large difference between how students learn in high school and how they learn in college.
Even knowing this, HCPS developed a grading policy that is meant to mimic a college grading system. Fifty percent of our grades are now accounted for by “products”, which mainly consist of tests and quizzes; 30 percent are accounted for by “process”, mostly classwork; the last 20 percent is accounted for by “practice”, including homework and small, quick assignments.
However, the grading system we are currently using offers a false illusion of how college grading really works. In college, grades are very straightforward. Generally, scores are given for exams and major papers only. There are no extraneous grades: no homework assignments are assessed, no five-question quizzes are offered to buffer a bad exam score. Also, there is no opportunity for extra credit.
As a result of the immense flexibility of the new HCPS grading system, our students are not prepared for the way in which colleges will assess them. Within the guidelines of the HCPS 50-30-20 grading system, teachers are encouraged to “use their professional discretion to determine the appropriateness of the assignment and how it should be weighted.” In this kind of system, teachers have the ability to choose what assignments go into which category.
As a result, if a class aces a quiz one day, the grade can be counted in the “product” category and count for more points. However, if that same class fails another quiz three weeks later, the new quiz can be placed into the “process” or even “practice” category.
The flexibility of the system allows for teachers to choose what grades should count as more of the student’s grade and which grades should count as less of the student’s grade. This flexibility does not exist in a college environment; the weight of an assignment is made clear on the syllabus and it is unlikely to change contingent on how students perform.
Right now, HCPS is too concerned with preparing students for college, ironically, with a system that is not preparing students at all. We are in high school, and we deserve to be treated as such. Because we have less time to complete assignments and understand content, we need a different grading system to reflect a high school environment. We do not need a grading system that gives us false illusions of how college grading really works.

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