New grading system benefits education

As the pandemic rolls on, school can feel increasingly useless and monotonous. DCPS has done a lot to assist students during this drudgery, including changing the grading policy. The new grading system, while controversial, is beneficial for students. 

Let’s first lay out what the updated grading policy is: 20 percent of our grade is student engagement, practice and application is 40 percent, and assessments are 40 percent. Furthermore, students are no longer penalized for late work. If a student hasn’t handed in their assignment yet, it will show up as “WS” in Aspen, and will count as a 50%. 

I believe that the improved grading system is undoubtedly fair. The inclusion of a policy that does not chastise late work is great for students who’ve found it hard to stay on top of their assignments. It offers flexibility, while still holding students accountable because they need to have all their work in by the end of the term. The dividing of the grading percentages is also helpful. Assessments have always been a large part of our grade, and it would just throw in more uncertainty and confusion to change that now. Practice and application, the bulk of our schoolwork, is also rightly worth 40 percent because it is the work we do on a day-to-day basis.

The student engagement grade is also acceptable. The high percentage of our grade attributed to camera usage is new, but sometimes it is least we can do as students. Teachers have to get up in the mornings too, and invariably keep their cameras on all day. We should try our best to show respect by also having our cameras on. 

As someone who doesn’t like the way I look through a camera (I mean, who does?), I still keep it on because I feel that it’s part of showing engagement. But if you’re currently in a headspace or situation where you can’t have your camera on, that’s also ok. Talking during class, while sometimes nerve-wracking, is also justly counted into our engagement grade. While I don’t believe you should be forced to talk every single class, speaking up every once in a while or typing in the chat often shows the teacher that their students are engaged in the class.

Now, back to the question “is the grading system fair?” After this review of all its components, I can confidently say that yes, I believe it is fair. Obviously, no policy dealing with such a broad range of students can be perfect. Hopefully the grading system will continue to be updated and adjusted as students and teachers relay feedback. DCPS has had inconsistent success at managing this pandemic, but the grading system they have created out of this crisis is reasonable and fair.