The printing of report cards shall not contain information regarding the distribution of grades within the classes taken by the student.
a. The current system promotes competition between students and fosters a climate of stress.
Students spend enough time and energy trying to figure out where they rank amongst their peers, and stress over the competitive aspects of school and grades enough. We have already abolished class rank; this proposal would be analogous to that with regards to individual classes. Many students have confused achievement with self-esteem. The grades should be taken as they are, as fitting in with the student handbook definition of grades, and not as comparison with other students.
b. The current system helps to create and perpetuate reputations of teachers. Teachers’ grading patterns are revealed, which has resulted in the creation of reputations. While granting that these tendencies would eventually become general knowledge anyhow, this provides a sense of factual backing for those assumptions. As such, based on these reputations, students try to get in or out of certain courses based on the relative ease or lack thereof of obtaining a high grade. This creates problems for teachers, students and guidance counselors. Teachers may be doing excellent work in challenging, inspiring, and educating students, but those students who focus on the grade focus on the results rather than the means. Nor are these reputations necessarily correct.
c. The current system leads to incorrect analysis. Each class is a unique entity with its own personality. Regarding the many classes at certain levels, it must be noted that some classes are stronger as a whole than others. For example, a Level I class taught by one teacher may have many A and B grades and no C/D/F grades due to the caliber of students placed into it, while another Level 1 class taught by the same teacher has a high number of B and C grades, with few A or D or F grades. Assignments, tests, essay assignments and the like may all be the same, as is the grading criteria.
d. The current system creates tensions between teachers. Upon being appraised of the grade breakdowns, teachers who are statistically revealed as being “easy graders’” or “hard graders” find themselves at odds with the rest of the teachers in the subject. The simple fact is that there is no standardized grading system, and that each teacher has his or her own requirements and criteria and system for grading. Teachers who give too many high grades may feel pressure from peers to tighten up on their criteria, while those who give few high grades may feel pressure from peers (as well as parents) to be more generous. When one teacher is more stringent or lenient than the rest of the peers, resentment may ensue. (Teachers are people too.)
e. The current system is incompatible with what is written in the Student Handbook. From page 96 of the LHS Handbook 2000-2001:
“We believe that grades should serve several goals:
- They should record and communicate achievement within an instructional level.
- They should serve as an incentive for students to work and achieve to their level of ability.
- They should differentiate among students on some clearly established and educationally meaningful basis.” Clearly the first two items do not lend support to the current system. However, the last one conceivably could be interpreted as doing so. But all that statement does is point out that there is in fact a system of defining what each grade actually means, and in fact the bottom of page 96 and the top of page 97 lay out what the letter grades, as well as “P” and “I”, stand for.
Teachers are required to tell students of their grading policies. Teachers are not, however, required to tell students of how many people fit the varying differentiations.