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Opinion: Stop treating students like guinea pigs

Opinion%3A+Stop+treating+students+like+guinea+pigs
Alice Wang

In my first three school years at Central, I’ve seen a grading policy change every August, and it looks like the trend won’t end soon.

Grades are more dependent on which year you take the class than your knowledge and understanding of the course’s content itself. A student who consistently gets grades in the mid or low-80s would have had a solid “A” in AP Physics last year due to its old 4-point scale rounding an 86% all the way to a 100%; that same student would get a “B” this year. Someone who regularly gets a high “B” on assessments would be stuck with exactly that grade in years prior, but the increased maximum reassessment score means that they could reasonably achieve an “A” in every class this year.

The district cares more about trying new things in their long-term switch to standards-based reporting than they do about how those grades impact students stuck in the middle of its transition in every year of high school. Students are treated as little more than numbers in a data set, subjects in a laboratory to test different procedures on to see which ones work.

This year, the lowest grade you can get on any summative is 50% so long as a “legitimate attempt” was made; if you get a 30% on a quiz, that’s automatically raised to the 50% floor implemented this year. And when you retake that quiz, the maximum score you can get on any reassessment is now 90%, compared to only 80% last year.

Formerly ”B” students can become “A” students without doing any extra work when they take the test the first time around—just take the reassessment after some post-test studying and the first test is like it never even happened.

Originally, this change was portrayed as one that would remain in place for years to come. But Naperville North has a separate and drastically different grading policy, which would yet again force a change at Central if theirs is deemed as better. Even between schools, students with the same test scores can earn different grades depending on the implemented grading system.

What was depicted as a semi-permanent switch is anything but. If North’s 80% maximum on reassessments is preferred, Central will once again have a new grading system come August 2024… for the fourth year in a row.

It’s as if I’m nothing more than a guinea pig in a maze. The moment I manage to escape last year’s laboratory testing of grading policies, I’m put right back at the start of a brand new experiment.

This confusing combination of grading policies is nothing new. Last year, there were a multitude of different class-specific policies, leaving me unable to remember which teacher was using which grading system.

Walking from Journalism to Biology was more than just a change in teachers or subjects; but a radical transformation of grading systems. And from Biology to Precalculus, yet another unique grading policy was in effect.

Is homework important in this class? What’s the curve on tests? Is there a grading floor? Which reassessment policy does the teacher use? It seemed like I had to evolve to a new environment during passing periods each and every day.

At Kennedy Junior High School, I was in the middle of a near-decade-long grading pilot of “standards-based reporting.” When I came to Central, even a seemingly-normal grading policy was completely new and foreign.

In only three years, I’ve experienced six different grading systems, whether pilots or policies.

It shouldn’t be headline news that Central is implementing a new grading system this year or last. If you get the same scores in different years, you should get the same grade regardless of when you take the class. Whichever grading policy Central and the district settle on, one thing should be paramount: consistency.

Students shouldn’t be fearful that their grades will be toyed with for the sake of some long-term progress that excludes them from the equation. District 203, stop treating students like guinea pigs.

 

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About the Contributors
C.J. Getting
C.J. Getting, News Editor
C.J. is a junior entering his third year on Staff for the Central Times. He’s always loved writing news, and is excited to work as the News Editor this year. When he’s not writing for CT, C.J. can be found captaining the Debate Team or helping out SAC or JSA. He also desperately needs to detox from volunteering. After graduation, C.J. hopes to major in Political Science and spend too much money on Law School someday.
Alice Wang
Alice Wang, Page Designer & Editorial Cartoonist
Alice Wang is a junior, and is entering their third year with Central Times. Alice loves comics and animation, and plans on majoring in Film Production. Along with being an editorial cartoonist and page designer for the Times, Alice is also the general manager of Chinese Club, and plans on playing Badminton for Central. In their free time, they enjoy reading poorly-written webcomics, watching horror films, sleeping and conjuring up ideas to pitch to film studios in the future.
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    Connor YOct 11, 2023 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for this article, CJ! As a Freshman, the change from “standards-based reporting” at Kennedy versus the grading here is completely different, and it seems that KJHS is moving to a 4-point grading scale now.

    Certainly District 203 will settle on one set grading scale soon, or so I hope.

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