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New Grading Policy Brings Greater Success to PHS

Ava Meltzer, Student Life Editor

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The 2016 to 2017 school year has arrived. Students are flaunting their back to school clothing, eagerly using their new, colored highlighters, and are reuniting with friends. However, the most noticeable feature amongst the students are not their new possessions or reconnections, but their stubborn views that stand against the new grading policy that Baltimore County Public Schools has just implemented.

Due to the new system, grades are based solely on standardized assignments that measure a student’s progress and success in a course. This includes essays, unit assessments, labs, and other summative assessments, where the focus of the task is on the outcome of the program. Through grading summative assessments, student’s achievement in learning and understanding the course is the deciding factor of s/he’s overall grade. Due to the fact that assignments that count towards students’ grades are standardized, and not teacher-developed, courses no longer greatly vary from class to class.

In light of this, teacher-developed assignments, behavior, work completion, attendance, effort, and participation will not affect a student’s overall grade, but are scored for conduct indicators. These indicators are assignments that are although scored, do not impact final grades. These indicators allow the students to see their progression in the class, giving explanation for their summative assignment grades. Regarding participation, the number of times students raise their hand or share an answer will no longer affect their grade. Alternately, for classes that require verbal participation, the grade will be based on the student’s performance. Additionally, pre-tests, that examine prior knowledge, and formative assessments, that assess the student’s in-process comprehension, will not impact grades.

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photo coutesy of Ava Meltzer

Alongside with the abolishment of these grades, extra credit is no longer available. To compensate for this, students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in a course. Students, with the aid of teacher feedback, are able to improve their grade by redoing summative assignments if they demonstrated a greater understanding.

Like most students, I initially looked at this new grading system with not only hesitation, but anger. This system appears to make achieving desirable grades impossible. However, as I familiarize myself with the policy, I find that this grading system is cohesive, and allows for a deeper education. For instance, in years prior, time after time, I found myself desperately asking fellow classmates for help on homework assignments, with hopes of receiving an “A.”

Now, due to the new grading policy, I no longer only view homework as a way to instantly improve my grade; and I no longer complete homework assignments with disregard as to whether or not I understand the subject. I see homework as a way to fully grasp my courses, a means of ensuring that I thrive during test taking. This applies to not only homework, but all pre-tests and formative assignments, which allow students to focus on their quality of learning, not simply the overall grade. The new grading policy brings meaning to classes, and motivates students to complete their work in order to master the skills and information that every course brings.

With Baltimore County’s new grading system comes hard work for students. Nevertheless, with the policy also comes a sense of accomplishment; every grade is earned. Achieving good grades will be challenging. However, school courses now bring a new level of education. Students may fear what the outcome of the new grading policy will be, but I foresee the result being a powerful, worthwhile education.

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New Grading Policy Brings Greater Success to PHS