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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Son

Transparent Grading Systems

During my freshman year, there was no way for me to see all of the grades that my teachers counted towards my final average. Scores such as participation and classwork always came as a surprise to me on report card day. I could not clearly see what constituted my average for a given class. On the contrary, at the beginning of my sophomore year, my school announced the implementation of a new grading system that allows students to see all of their grades as they are being put into the grading system. This includes grades for participation, classwork, quizzes, tests, and homework preparation. Students (and their parents) have the ability to check their grades for each assignment at any time during the school year. As teachers put grades into their computer, students can see it on their computers or even their phones. My school uses Campus Portal for this feature, but other schools use similar programs under different names.

As someone who has experienced going through school with and without this transparent grading system, I can confidently say that there are significant differences between my experiences with this program. One of the benefits of seeing my grades as they are being put in is that I can stay up to date on my missing assignments and grades for a certain class and see where my average is all coming from. However, this transparent grading system has also put a mental toll on me. Constantly checking my grades to see if there’s an update interferes with my day-to-day life, and even when I’m hanging out with friends, I find myself obsessively checking my grades.

There are many benefits to being able to see my grades as they are being put into the system. One of them is that I can stay up to date on which assignments I am missing so that I can make them up without having to go through my teacher first. Especially with the app on my phone, I can see what assignments I have to make up at any time of the day, any day. Another benefit to transparent grading systems is that I no longer am surprised when I see my report card. I know exactly grades I’m getting in areas such as participation or classwork (something that students are not usually handed on paper, unlike test or quiz scores) long before I see my average. Being able to see exactly what grades constitute my average also make me a conscientious student; I can see exactly where I’m failing to get the grades I want and where I want to make more of an effort.

With all these benefits of a transparent grading system, there are some cons, mainly to mental health. Personally, grades are something that matter a lot to me. Something that I’ve noticed ever since sophomore year is that I feel anxiety or dread whenever I have to check my grades on the portal. However, this is something that I just can’t bring myself to stop doing sometimes. On my worst days, I see myself refreshing my grading portal every couple of minutes. Because I have the app on my phone, I can even more easily check my grades as much as I want. Seeing a bad grade can ruin my whole day; the bad grade on that algebra test that I stayed up all night to study for can make me moody and lash out to my family over dinner at 6 PM. Even when I’m hanging out with my friends on the weekends, I find myself looking at my grading portal app to see if there are any new updates. I’ve found that having a grading portal accessible to students at all times can increase my anxiety even when I shouldn’t even be worrying about school.

While I can agree that having a transparent grading system allows students to be more conscientious of their grades, this system causes some to stress over their grades 24/7 without ever getting a break from school. This damages mental health and leads to high stress when it comes to grades. I think that the only way to reap the benefits of a transparent grading system while maintaining mental health is for students to realize that grades don’t determine their worth or character. Obviously, something like this is easier said than done, but these systems can be helpful to students only if they don’t put too much pressure on themselves regarding schoolwork and instead just do the best they can.

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