Weighted grades do more harm than good

By Arielle Gordon, Contest Manager

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“I HAVE to do well on this next math test! It is 70 percent of my grade!”

This is not an uncommon statement to hear in CHS hallways. Weighted grades are beginning to take over the CHS gradebooks, with summative assessments taking the most weight.

Many departments at CHS weigh summative assignments heavily at 50, 60 or even 70 percent of students’ quarter grades. However, homework is given only five percent of the quarter grade. This is unfair.

This system does not always reward students who do all of their homework and occasionally struggle on tests. MCPS allows each department to decide individually if it wants to weigh grades and how much to weigh each category.

According to social studies department head Rodney Van Tassell, MCPS allows each department to make its own decisions regarding the weight of grades.

If a department does decide to weigh grades, homework’s weight must be limited. In fact, homework cannot be worth more than ten percent of the quarter grade.

The department must also give enough large summative assignments to make sure that there is enough variety in the grades. This system sends the wrong message by causing students to focus on doing well on large assignments instead of doing well on all assignments given.

According to Principal Joan Benz, homework is given to help students prepare for tests. If they do well on the homework, they should do well on the test and not need to care about homework points.

MCPS should not allow schools to weigh summative assignments as more than 50 percent of quarter grades. Currently, there is no guideline for how much weight summative assignments can have. Students must learn that all assignments are important, no matter the point value, and the grading policy must reflect that.

Due to the lack of weight given to homework points, it is very hard to boost a grade after one bad test score, so students tend to only focus on the test.

Some might say that this policy is a beneficial to the students because it teaches them to focus on the big projects and not get caught up in the smaller tasks. However, in reality, it just teaches students that as long as they get a good grade in the end, it doesn’t matter how they get there.

Since homework is worth so little, many students do not feel that it is worth their time to complete and often copy answers off of another student or simply will not complete it. Not completing homework just leads students to be underprepared for tests and as a result they receive lower grades, and do not have the homework completion points to serve as a grade booster.

MCPS needs to send the message that preparation is important. This is easily accomplished by giving homework equal weight and point value in relation to the rest of students’ assignments.