MCPS grading changes prove overwhelming and confusing for students and parents

By Observer Opinion

The idea that change is a good thing is a well known concept, however MCPS really took that saying to heart. Ending the use of Edline as a way for students to check grades is only the most recent of many changes that MCPS has sprung on the students and staff, leaving us bewildered and overwhelmed.

The changes that MCPS has made to processes throughout the county has caused people to not only be confused, but also are at extremely bad times. MCPS should try to take into account how their actions have an effect on the student body, considering that is the main audience that they are trying to improve conditions for.

MCPS began making major changes last year, when Governor Larry Hogan directed public schools to open after labor day, a week after they had opened in previous years. According to the Potomac Patch, a local online and print news publication, this change was implemented to boost tourism in areas such as Ocean City.

Despite the economic benefits to opening school after Labor Day, this adjustment affects students in ways that are not necessarily beneficial, especially considering AP exam schedules. Even though school starts a week later than previous years, the test dates for students taking AP exams will stay the same. Therefore, students lose a week of time to study, and teachers have to cram in a school year’s worth of material in even less time than before.

Since the 2017-2018 school year is the first year that this is implemented, there are no statistics sharing whether or not it will tangibly affect AP exam scores, but if scores do end up dipping this year, it seems safe to assume that there is a correlation between the two.

Additionally, due to this schedule change, there is less time off for students and teachers. This makes it harder for people to visit family members for holidays and does not give a sufficient amount of break for people to regroup.

According to a 2010 Psychology Today study, high stress levels are detrimental to sleep, altering the cells in your body. In turn, It could negatively affect memory and decision making. However, vacations are a chance to break this detrimental cycle of stress, as it rejuvenates and relaxes. With this new schedule change, stress for students and faculty only increase.

Another major change that has left staff and students bewildered is the Edline switch. At the start of this year, MCPS officials introduced a new portal called myMCPS, which will function as a new place for students and parents to check grades and for teachers to share and comment on assignments..

According to a Sept. 2017 Bethesda Beat article, myMCPS will keep all information in one place, unlike previous years where the information was spread on multiple platforms.

Additionally, with the removal of Edline, apps such as Edline Helper, which provides a way for students to calculate how certain grades will affect their overall class grade, are now void. Thisforces students to go through the school year and take tests with a higher degree of uncertainty.

Although this new system has its advantages, there is undoubtedly a learning curve for both students and teachers attempting to utilize it to its full potential. In the beginning of the year, this program was only functional for certain student accounts. Even once one was logged in, it was still a bit more complicated to figure out how exactly to check grades, as there is not a tab labeled grades where one can easily check, unlike Edline.

With a new school year, there are already many aspects of confusion for students and staff that comes with getting back into the school routine. However, springing new changes on the community without even a proper beta test period shows a lack of consideration of the effects it will have. Next time MCPS wants to make a drastic change to how things work, they should first get the opinions of the people that they are trying to help.