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Not adding up to success: We need to set new grade expectations

To+pass+a+class+at+CHS%2C+you+only+need+to+get+four+quality+points+a+year%2C+which+is+the+equivalent+to+one+A+out+of+four+marking+periods.++But+is+this+expectation+setting+up+our+students+for+failure+in+life%3F
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Not adding up to success: We need to set new grade expectations

To pass a class at CHS, you only need to get four quality points a year, which is the equivalent to one A out of four marking periods.  But is this expectation setting up our students for failure in life?

To pass a class at CHS, you only need to get four quality points a year, which is the equivalent to one A out of four marking periods. But is this expectation setting up our students for failure in life?

Kate Muir

To pass a class at CHS, you only need to get four quality points a year, which is the equivalent to one A out of four marking periods. But is this expectation setting up our students for failure in life?

Kate Muir

Kate Muir

To pass a class at CHS, you only need to get four quality points a year, which is the equivalent to one A out of four marking periods. But is this expectation setting up our students for failure in life?

By Carter Smith, Carlisle High School

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Graduating high school is a substantial accomplishment, but some students are able to do so without putting in much effort. In the Carlisle Area School District, there is a major flaw in our grading system that has made it entirely too easy for students to earn their high school diplomas.

Carlisle High School uses a very outdated system when it comes to passing and failing students. This system, known as quality points, has been in operation since the 2000-2001 school year, with the 2003 graduating class being the first class to use this system. Little to no changes have been instituted in this system since its inception.

In the quality points system, an A is worth four points, a B is worth 3 points, a C is worth 2 points, and a D is worth one point. Students are required to earn at least 4 quality points in each class to pass for the year.

If a student receives an A during the first marking period, they have technically met the requirement for passing the course. They could get an F for the next three marking periods and still pass for the year.

Well, almost.

There is a little something called the X grade. The X grade allows the teacher to fail the student, despite the student earning their quality points previously in the year; teachers are permitted to use this measure if they see that a student has entirely stopped putting effort into their work.

However, teachers rarely use this authority.  Teachers receive a lot of backlash from parents and students when bad grades are put in, so failing a passing student could end badly.  When issuing a student the X grade, the teacher is required to provide the student with a list of assignments that need to be made up and a timeline for the make-up work to be submitted; the student only fails if they do not submit their missing tasks in a sufficient manner.

Since the X grade is so rarely used, the ineffective quality points system allows students to earn D’s in all of their classes and still pass to the next grade. This allows students without a strong drive to succeed to complete superficial work and still be recognized for passing their classes.

According to the online site “Prep Scholar,” the average U.S. high school GPA was 3.38 in 2018.  The grade point average 3.38 is the equivalent of A’s and B’s. All of this is happening while CHS is deeming it acceptable for students to have just a 1.0 GPA through all of high school. A grade of C is universally considered “average,” so the high school should at least push students to achieve mediocrity.

By setting standards so low, the CHS administration is essentially telling students that it is great to be getting A’s and B’s, but it is also okay if you are getting D’s if you are trying your hardest. This is not entirely true, as students who receive lower grades are not putting in their full effort or may have a disability that is keeping them from performing at their best.

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, many students who have undiagnosed disabilities receive low grades such as D’s and F’s before they are officially diagnosed.

Their article “The State of Learning Disabilities: Facts, Trends and Emerging Issues” discovered that “Students with LD earn lower grades and experience higher rates of course failure in high school than students without LD.”

The low standards make it harder to spot and help the students who are really struggling. Many students put forth an effort and are unable to succeed due to a variety of reasons, including having a learning disability. If standards are raised and students continue to struggle with D grades, then this might set off red flags that a learning disability is possible.

An argument against changing this system is that students who plan to enter the workforce straight out of high school do not need to obtain as high of grades as college-bound students. This simply is not the case.

According to an article by the Huffington Post, workforce employers who hire students straight out of high school do look for applicants with above-average grades. Earning just D’s in high school will not be beneficial to these students once they enter the real world.

As we are now in the year 2019, it is time for the Carlisle Area School District to move on from the quality point system in order to push students to greater heights. In today’s society, there are a plethora of postgraduate opportunities that are available to students who excel in high school. Even students who do not wish to attend college still need to build skills in high school so that cannot be provided by simply earning D’s. We should be challenging all students to reach their greatest potential.

This story was originally published on Periscope on April 4, 2019.

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