A New Way to Grade

Camryn Snider, Editor-In-Chief

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What will it take to get the grade? The answer to that question is now changing at the Laingsburg Middle School.

The eighth grade math and science departments are implementing a new grading system where students must complete a combination of required work, choice activities, a digital portfolio, and student-teacher conferences.

“Mrs. Malaski and I really want to change the conversation from, ‘why do I not have the grade I want’ to ‘what is it that I need to learn?’” teacher Elizabeth Stark said.

The new grading system is now in place. So far, it has received a fair share of mixed reviews.

“It has made us a little more stressed about what we need to get done and what we are going to do to extend our learning,” eighth-grade student Olivia Rodriguez said. “At first we did not like it, but now most of us are warming up to it.”

While Stark does believe the new system will be a success, she did admit there have been a few bumps along the way.

“Change is never easy, especially when we are talking about a system that has been in place for so long that is familiar to everyone,” Stark said. “I feel that it is going to get easier, and students and parents will see that it is not any more work, it is just a different way of assessing.”

Malaski and Stark created this system based on educational studies that were conducted by Ruth Butler and Ken O’Connor.

“The hardest thing to get past, is that the points are not the focus. It is what you get wrong, where did you go wrong, and how do you fix it,” Stark said. “The main focus is learning, not evaluation.”

Parent Anne Brunn also saw a problem with the old grading system, and agreed with Stark that it was time for things to change.

“I think it fosters an environment of learning instead of an environment of trying to remember,” Brunn said. “Knowing that the goal is to learn something is way better than the goal of trying to produce a score on a test.”

Brunn is impressed with the new system, and the effect it is having on the classroom.

“I think sometimes, as parents, we focus too much on grades and forget that not everyone will excel at every subject,” Brunn said. “I think it is a great reminder that we are not raising ‘students’, we are raising ‘amazing human beings.'”