PCP: Controversy surrounding new 80/20 policy

New grading structure sparks debate
PCP: Controversy surrounding new 80/20 policy
New grading system is valuable

As the new school year rolls in, changes to Parks’ grading system have created controversy. An 80/20 policy has been introduced: 80% of a student’s grade is made up of summative assignments, while 20% is formative. Another portion of the policy is the 50% grading floor. With this, a student will still receive 50% of the possible score if they don’t turn it in or it is partially done. The 80/20 rule has already been enacted, despite no warning to students. While students disagree on if this was the right choice, the majority of teachers have already adapted to this format. 

Keeping up with seven different grading styles is overwhelming and complicated. Every teacher has a unique way of doing things and remembering each one during that class creates unnecessary stress. Two teachers will grade the same assignment differently. While the 80/20 rule doesn’t affect how teachers grade individual work, it keeps the overall grading the same for every class.

School is always going to be difficult. No matter what classes you take and how you manage them, keeping up is hard and sometimes you need to sacrifice a couple assignments. In the old system this could mean complete failure. When you apply 80/20, missing some homework doesn’t mean that much. If a student can properly understand the subject without completing 10 point assignments then they should be able to prioritize studying for a test over mindless homework.  

80% of your grade being reserved for tests can create a more personalized experience where you choose how to study and keep your grade up. This creates more responsibility and although not everyone will be able to handle that, it should be a skill everyone develops over the course of their high school career. Some teachers in the past have even made tests worth 90% of your grade, even though it is a lot, it’s much better to have the same grading system for each teacher. 

Overall, having a consistent grading system simplifies everything. It makes it easier to prioritize assignments and take responsibility for your own education. Being able to understand a concept should not be defined by how much homework you do — it should be defined by the test scores you receive.

80/20 grading system hurts not helps

Park’s administration has decided to change Park’s grading system this year, which has caused conflict within some classes. They have created an 80/20 system. This means that 80% of your grade is summatives like tests, projects, etc. and the other 20% of your grade is smaller assignments like quizzes or homework. With this new change, people have conflicting opinions showcasing the good and bad of this new system. With more of your grade riding on your summatives, it can cause some stress for students. 

Before this new system, many teachers had their own preferred grading scale that worked for their curriculum. Most systems teachers have created are closer to 70/30 or 60/40. This makes the class more manageable and feels more attainable. It allows you to get an A in the class without having to get an A on the test. If you complete the homework for understanding of the curriculum, it only counts towards 20% of your grade. When it’s as low as 20% it can feel pointless, when in reality homework is a big part of understanding content. Formatives not only count for a small part of your grade but can discourage students from doing them in the first place, which can lead to a higher rate of struggling within your classes. 

When a test is approaching most people work hard to get a good grade, and sometimes it goes in your favor while other times it does not. It’s now taking up 80% of your grade and in many classes a retake is not an option for a summative. If you fail one test your grade plummets, and it can be a struggle to raise it again. As I said before, it can make an A seem distant and unattainable which can be very discouraging for students.

With summatives being 80% of your grade, students are going to be more stressed about getting a good grade. Test taking can be a large struggle for many people, whether that’s because you’re a poor test taker or because you have testing anxiety. This is something that not many people can control. No matter how much you study or work towards understanding all the content, people who struggle taking tests will still see lower testing scores. Your comprehension of the curriculum should be based on your work throughout the unit and not a 50 minute test that people may struggle over. 

Overall, the 80/20 system can be more harmful towards students than any good. From a student’s point of view, it makes the homework and small projects feel pointless. Tests are determining everything and can increase testing struggles such as anxiety. With our previous system of letting teachers choose their grading system, it gave students more hope for their grades and education. 

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