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Grading Grades: GPA's Affect On Fairview Students

By Sara McCrea and Grace Hedlund in Student News

Teachers have been starting to put numbers into Infinite Campus, but different members of the Fairview community are starting to debate the value of grades.

Grades are not just feedback on how students are doing in their classes, but a report that will eventually affect colleges’ decisions on applications come senior year. Even though grades should not define a student’s self-worth, many students and faculty members are concerned about grades having a negative effect on the student body as a whole.

“Kids are so much more than grades,” Counselor Lesley Lundeen said. “I think that how much effort you put into something and how much you care about a subject doesn’t necessarily reflect in the grade.I can’t tell you how many kids I see that are devastated when they have Bs and Cs, when really you learned the content, you understand the subject, you are passionate about the subject, and it shouldn’t matter if you get an A or if you get a C.”

Along with Ms. Lundeen, other faculty members agree that grades and GPA’s are a small part of education.

“I think GPA and class rank mean very little in my mind. I would much prefer to have kids who are self starters, lifelong learners who are curious, who want to get involved,” said Principal Don Stensrud.

An argument against grades is that it would be difficult to put a number on overall intelligence.

“[Grades] don’t really matter to me because I know that what I’m learning can’t be measured in a test or a grade,” said sophomore Marcella Mason.

Other students agree that grades aren’t an accurate way to determine how smart someone is.

“You are not your grade,” said junior Angela Cai. “There are street smarts and academic smarts and you can’t measure intelligence by grades.”

There has also been controversy about whether grades get in the way of being an engaged learner. Some teachers are even having their students discuss the by “The Case Against Grades”, by Alfie Kohn to gain insight into the possible determinants of having grades.

“[Grades] definitely are a good way to judge how much you understand the material and how well you’re doing in the class, but at the same time I think it’s easy to focus so much on my grades that the actual material and learning process matters less because I’m so concerned with getting an A,” said Julia Jenak, junior.

The grading process that was used during the time that our parents and faculty were in high school has changed drastically because of modern technology. It’s hard to tell if the pressure of grades is coming from the students or the parents, but most likely it is a combination of both.

“Grades don’t mean what they used to be. When I taught, C used to be average. Now when a kid gets a C, it’s the end of the world,” said Stensrud.

The technology of giving grades has changed as well, through sites such as Schoology and Infinite Campus.

“With Infinite Campus, you can instantly see your grades, some students can get their information really quickly,” said teacher Dan Albritton. “We would just have to wait until they were sent out in the mail.”

Infinite campus has made grades more accessible for students, but though some believe that Infinite Campus takes away a large possibility of a teacher assigning a grade based on a personal relationship with the student, others argue that teacher bias will always be present.

“What grades try to measure is how much the class is trying to teach you, but sometimes teachers’ bias can have an effect,” said senior Stevan Maksimovich. “There’s always going to be a teacher bias for the students that go above and beyond compared to the students that just do ‘well enough.’ And Infinite Campus doesn’t make it any better.”.

A popular argument favoring grades is that grades provide an incentive for students to do their schoolwork.

“I think some people need the extrinsic motivation [of grades] to do [their work], said Kim Berg, a junior. “But I think a lot of people have the intrinsic motivation to want to actually learn.”.

There are many pros and cons to grades, and though they may create a standard for students to rise to, the Fairview community is expressing their apprehension when it comes to placing “too much pressure” on GPAs. “I don’t think (the pressure) comes from any one group or that it comes from the school or from the parents, but I think in general the society we’re in has too much emphasis on grades,” said Counselor Lundeen. “A GPA is only one factor of your potential success.”

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