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4, 3, 2, 1, None

By , Grand Junction, CO
Among the country, revolutionary changes are being made to how education functions. On all levels, the more traditional methods of completing the most simple of tasks are being challenged. The fact that changes are being made for the sake of change cannot be dismissed. Administrators spread across the country need to understand the consequences resulting from these changes.

Written in an article by Laura Rediehs, an assistant professor of philosophy at St. Lawrence University, it says, “The problem with traditional grading is that students have good reasons to worry about their grades,” Why is this the bad thing? There is a great amount of reason why students should worry about their grades. Earning good grades during high school will admit most students to college. Pupils strive on being able to show what they accomplished. Grades are becoming increasingly public, no longer is it private between the instructor and the student; it is a role in pupil’s lives that decide who and what they are. One single grade can determine how people think of you and how you think of yourself.
In the same article, she also said, “being grade-oriented undermines the most important goals.” The truth is golden. Grades destroy students’ love for learning. But we must effectively use what we have, and limiting the potential of students is not the way to go. There is a limit to how much we can achieve with in this specific method and how we learn. With this four point scale, you can’t go beyond. Before the change, you could expect to receive an “A+” if you answered all problems correctly on a test in addition to an extra credit problem. You would exceed standards that you are required to understand. Now, if you do the same work, you will earn an “A”. But the major difference here is that there isn’t that chance to take it to the next level. It may have not been represented publicly, but you could look at each individual assignment and remember to be proud of yourself. There is no reason for me to try to excel, if I won’t remember what I did in two weeks.
You can not expect all students to work at the same level of quality or quantity. Instead of putting students where they are not, you need them to have a motivation. With standard based grading, the playing field is level. Students that are advanced academically have an abrupt stop at how they show their achievements. If anyone can get an “A” on a paper, where is the reason to try your best? It is absent; substituting standard based grading for traditional grading systems is just trying to mask the fact that not everyone is going to pass. When you mask these facts, you cause false confidence. Eventually, false confidence leads to a destruction when you fail. In a work place, you will not always succeed, it is better to learn the facts when the risks are small.
Standard based grading allows more negative subjective grading. Administrators assume that with the facts on paper that they know, but they have no idea where the direction of public education is going. Teachers think they understand what works and what doesn’t. Only we, the pupils, understand what is truly happening. It is impossible for teachers to see inside a student’s head and tell whether or not they understand a concept. The core of standards based grading is destroyed because it cannot live up to its ultimate goal.
The following is a scenario with both a traditional and a standard based system of grading, respectively. A student accidently answered a question incorrectly on his assessment. Het still receives an “A”. If a student were to make a small computation error on their assessment, he will receive a partially proficient score because the teacher assumes that this student does not understand a concept fully. Which situation more accurately measures a student’s level of understanding of a concept?
Standard based grading is a “one size fits all” situation. You depend on all subjects and all classes within those subjects to have the exact same circumstances. This new system also depends on all students being the same. According to the Department of Education, about ten percent of all school-aged children receive a special education service, which is too large of a number to ignore. Teachers and administrators alike need to go more out of their way for the special exceptions. We are pushing more towards a direction where the generalizations are the standards for students. Pupils are becoming human beings that they don’t aim to be, because of situations like this. Examples are set, and these examples automatically become the status quo.

In the year 1998, selected schools in Beijing, China went under a similar reform. They removed the 100 mark scale and replaced it with standard based grading. The system for their grades were Excellent, Good, Pass, and Fail. You can look at this as 4,3,2,1 respectively if you wish. Sixty percent of these student’s grades were based on the overall achievement itself and the other forty percent was based on the daily behavior aspect of their school. Cai Fang, a primary student in Beijing, said to a reporter "Why should you go crazy over exams? Homework and scores won't bother you anymore.” This is what is fundamentally wrong with this change. Students aren’t feeling that pressure to do the best that you can. These exams are losing their need. When you lose the power of major exams and tests, you lose the measure of their success. Teachers, those were against this change, argue that “pupils acquire a better and faster command of fundamental knowledge under the old system.”
Isn’t there a point where the voices being heard the most should be the ones affected?

Standard based grading is an approach to a more student and teacher friendly solution to some of the problems inside public education, but we, as a community, are masking our issues with confusion. This is relaying an unneeded message to young adults, where citizens live in a world where we don’t solve our problems and submit without question.

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