This year, JCPS instituted a change to the grading scale, requiring that no individual scoring category be weighted more than 20 percent in a student’s final grade.
According to Mr. Jerry Mayes, principal, the district-wide change was implemented primarily to serve lower-performing schools. “Even though we were perfectly fine with where we were, the district implemented this for all schools, concentrating on schools with lesser performance,” he said. “It makes it a little easier for them because if teacher that decides to weight something 40%, and kid bombs that particular assignment, then their grade would be shot.”
Though JCPS requires Manual to enforce the new rule, many teachers have simply divided individual assignments between two or three categories in Infinite Campus. “Essentially, we still have the same system, we just have to frame it a little bit differently,” said Mayes. “It just looks a little bit different. Instead of calling a project 40% of someone’s grade, for example, we have to say that 20% of that is presentation and 20% of that is research.”
Student reactions to the new policy have been mixed.
Some, like Timothy Spencer (11, YPAS), think that the rule will be effective in its intended goal of providing a safety net for students’ grades. “I think it’s a pretty good improvement because it gives people a chance to excel in their classes even if they fail one assignment,” he said.
Others, however, believe that grades have not been positively affected by the change.
“I don’t think it’s been very effective,” said Sarah Cheng (12, MST). “Teachers end up splitting grades into different sections, so students end up with the same result, just called two different categories in the computer.”
Some teachers have found that the decreased weight of assessments has led students to have a false sense of academic security.
“Grades are a little higher this year then they have been in the past,” said Ms. Kathleen Geary (Mathematics). “Since tests don’t have as much value in students’ final scores, some people get the sense that their homework and classwork scores will balance out their other bad grades. It could be a problem because when people get to college, they’re not going to be accustomed to their grade being made up of a test and one or two papers, with no extra cushion.”