Standards change grading systems

Oak Park instated a new form of grading in the last school year to promote learning among students rather than point stacking. Oak Park was a year ahead of the other three high schools in the district; all the high schools in the North Kansas City School District have adopted the new grading style this school year.

One part of standards-based grading that appeals to many students is the simplicity of the scale.

“I’m fine with it. It’s easy to understand,” said junior Aaron Ransburg.

According to teachers, standards-based grading is broken down into five parts: no proof of learning (5.0), below basic (6.5), basic (7.5), proficient (9.0), and advanced (10.0).

“I also don’t think we should have to do extra credit for a 10,” said sophomore Tristan Young.

There are assessments regularly to gauge students’ understanding of a specific standard being taught in class. Standards that are in the grade book are only final at the end of the semester and can fluctuate based on the students’ understanding of the topic at a given time. The number of assessments (tests, projects, or writing pieces) throughout the week varies from class to class and some students find it challenging to keep up with the amount of assessing.

“It’s hard to get good grades when you have a test every week,” said freshman Josey Willard. “We take tests all the time.”

Another controversial aspect of standards-based grading is the finalization of grades. Teachers are not to solidify a grade in any standard until the end of the semester, meaning that grades can fluctuate. A 9.0 on a standard could drop down to a 6.5 then back up to a 10 all in one semester.

“As an anxious person I tend to freak out,” said Young.