by Alex Slusher
At OES, it is easy to fall into an academic hole.
Rigorous schoolwork, intensive sports schedules and abundant extracurricular opportunities can lead OES students to live busy lives, and occasionally grades can become lost in the process.
While some progressive educators might argue that deemphasizing grades leads to more learning, at OES, grades are still paramount to the success of its students in both high school and the years following.
Students at OES attend the school for many reasons, one of which being that it helps students apply and get accepted to the universities of their choice. Nearly all universities, and almost every single university that OES students apply to, ask for the grade point average (or GPA) of the student. Performance in freshman and sophomore years is often less valued by universities, but these grades still count equally in a student’s GPA.
A lack of awareness from OES students towards the importance of grades, especially early on in high school, is apparent, and can lead to bad grades, which in turn hurt a student’s GPA.
After talking to many peers, it became clear to me that there was a serious issue surrounding the awareness of grade importance.
Alex Olander, a freshman of Cal Poly who graduated from OES last year told me that, “Early on in high school, I didn’t think about grades. I wasn’t kept up to date on my progress in my respective classes, so by the time finals came around, and I started to think about my grades, it was often too late to have a serious impact on them”. This sentiment is shared by many at OES, who feel that by the times grades come out, it is too late to change them.
A possible solution to this issue would be the adoption of an online grading system at OES. Some teachers have elected to use the online platform of Haiku to communicate grades, and the response from students has been generally positive.
OES junior Thomas H. noted that in his sophomore English class — one that used online grading — he had a “constant understanding of how he needed to perform, how much different assignments were worth, and what was needed to raise his grade”. Thomas added that uncertainty regarding grades causes extra stress, especially when the end of the quarter or semester approaches.
Lindsey Zanchettin, an English teacher who has consistently used Haiku’s online grading feature over the last year and a half, commented on the effectiveness of online grading, saying that, “Online grading allows the student to take ownership of their grade, and can help motivate a student to work hard.” Lindsey added that although online grading could lead to an increase in arguing over points assigned to smaller tasks, she still felt that the pros outweighed the cons.
Although online grading may be cause for a stronger emphasis on grades than some OES teachers would like, it seems as though the implementation of a system would benefit the vast majority of the school’s students. Instead of badgering teachers with questions surrounding grades, every student would have a clear understanding of where they stood in each class.
Although the specific platform for online grading could be up for debate, the need for a more transparent understanding of where students stand in their respective class seems necessary for the OES community.