By Hannah Kim and Gregory Marzano
Despite being only just a number, grades have managed to destroy, make and dictate our moods and, to a large degree, our lives. Students have fallen victim to agonizingly sleepless nights, studying for hours without rest in hopes of just feeding their grade books one decent grade. We continue to live in this vicious cycle daily, due to our craving for grade-based validation.
Source by Hannah Kim
Grade addiction has not subsided as students return to class in person.
With our new grade portal system, Infinite Campus, we, along with our parents, are able to download an app on our phones and iPads to view our grades at any time, even quicker than we could with eSchoolData, which only had a website. While this may be beneficial because we are able to check our grades to see in which areas we may need help, pushing us to seek extra help, we also tend to check our grades too often. Many students stress about when grades are going to be released, constantly refreshing the portal.
Students and parents can even enable notifications for when teachers grade assignments, seeing their grade instantly. Despite this feature offering instantaneous insight into all test scores, it can also ruin weekends and drag school into our personal lives, since it increases the risk of staining one’s mood from a bad exam grade. Disabling these notifications, however, can also disable many very important announcements from teachers or other staff members, which may have very valuable information.
For those students who may not constantly monitor their grades, this allows parents to be very on top of their children's academics. Although this can help the parents see where their children may need help, especially if they are too afraid to ask for help, this can lead to an overload of pressure from parental expectations. Students know when they perform poorly on tests and more often than not, they do not need their parents' input on their grades all the time.
Before online grade portals, students would have to wait until the next time they have class and have teachers hand back the physical test. This allows students to review the test questions as well, instead of just seeing a number. Students can review the questions they got wrong to ensure they know the information for subsequent exams.
“However, this also causes grades to have an overbearing impact on our lives because of our dependency on them...”
In addition, due to the unhealthy addiction that students have with the current grading system, some are calling for the implementation of a pass or fail system. Many strongly believe that this will restore the meaning of learning and alleviate unnecessary stress caused by specific numerical values.
The current number based system creates a highly competitive atmosphere that motivates students to work at highly exceptional levels. However, this also causes grades to have an overbearing impact on our lives because of our dependency on them. Students base their self-worth on the grades they receive and believe that these assessments determine their overall success. This increases competition and deters students from working collaboratively, in an effort to receive the highest grades.
Many students even frequently choose their GPA over their general well-being, refusing to sleep until they finish studying, skipping meals to take additional AP courses and constantly taking it out on themselves for a subpar test score. Students’ hyperfocus on their numerical grades has detrimental effects on their mental health, as well as the quality of their education, since it can create a toxic climate.