Weighted grading systems don’t help students learn

I might just be shooting myself in the foot here, but I don’t believe in weighted grading, especially the way our schools have been designed with the way we’re taught.

Now, I’m fully aware I would have done horribly, if not failed a few classes in high school if not for weighted grading, but at the same time, I kind of deserved to.

My school district, like many others, had a set policy that teachers couldn’t change. 75% of your grade was only from tests, or ‘achievement’ scores, and 25% was from ‘practice’ scores.

The problem with this is that it fosters a bad work ethic, punishes students with testing anxiety, and doesn’t accurately describe the work that students have put into a class.

Some classes give you hours worth of work outside of class, especially math and history classes which require extensive reading or practice problems to actually understand the material.

Using math as an example, most of my math teachers through high school would base the tests around problem types we haven’t looked at in class or homework because if we ‘actually understood the material’ we could apply it to something new, and while I do run into this in college, its nearly always as extra credit instead of the test itself.

I’m not very mathematically minded, and being able to apply a formula in an obscure way a dozen different times isn’t something that’s realistic for me to do in a 30 minute time span while hyperventilating.

This lead to me not really putting any effort into a few classes because it seemed like it didn’t matter if I did or not.

I could spend hours on homework, making sure to review what we learned, but one bad quiz would wipe it all away.

On the flip side of things, students who are already good at something don’t learn to pursue their interests.

If a student has enough of a background knowledge that they can test well, they aren’t held accountable for putting an effort into class.

Instead of pushing a student to learn more about a subject they do well in, they’re able to coast by on quizzes and possibly get a better grade than someone who isn’t well versed in a subject, but regularly puts in twice the effort.

Furthermore, students with personal issues, undiagnosed or untreated learning disorders, and testing anxiety are at an inherent disadvantage to those who do not.

You could have studied for hours a day, taken all of the notes you possibly could have, and tripled the knowledge you had on a subject, but if you just got the news your parents are splitting up, had a loss in the family, or a big fight with your friend, your mind is going to be pretty jumbled for your test on the French civil war.

Even if nothing happened, between the time constraint and the pressure of a test, testing anxiety can get in the way of you sorting your thoughts correctly.

In my experience, tests and quizzes are one and done, no retakes. That, at least to me, doesn’t reflect the real world.

If your cousin asks you what day your grandma’s birthday is and you say the wrong day by mistake, you can always shoot them a text and correct yourself. In fact, you can ask your mom what your grandma’s birthday is and avoid the whole situation.

You will have resources in the real world, you can research and collaborate as needed to do what you need to do, so why can’t you in class?

On top of not being real-world accurate, I don’t think they accurately reflect a students knowledge of something.

You have no clue what will be on your test, and I think we’ve all been in a situation where you somehow managed to study for everything but whats on the test, especially if its a short one.

I had an A.P. U.S. History exam online during the covid-19 pandemic. Can you guess how many questions there were?

There was one question. One. It was on a very obscure part of the senate.

I had an A in my class all year, I studied for days, and my teacher regularly had at least 3 students get a 5 on the exam every year. I got a 1, and I’m not ashamed about it because, frankly, that test was laughable.

Weighted grading has its perks for students with busy schedules and little time to do a bunch of homework, but it works only in their favor.

I can see how they’re intended to work, but currently, I think that they foster poor work ethics in academics, deal unfair advantages, and fail to actually reward learning.

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