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Column

PES’ new grading system a bold move

The new grading system is meant to minimize the impact of Fs on students’ ultimate grades

Princeton Elementary School recently broke with tradition by ditching the longtime 100-point grading scale that many of us grew up with. In its place will be a four-point scale where students will receive four points for an A, three points for a B, and so on.

It’s a bold move. Changing an established system is never easy, but we applaud the school district for finding a new system that should ultimately benefit the students.

Princeton Elementary School Superintendent Tim Smith said the change was really targeted at lessening the impact of that 0 to 59 area of the 100-point grading scale.

To a teacher, whether the student gets a 58 or a 20, for instance, is irrelevant – both numbers signal a student either doesn’t understand the assignment or that they were having other issues which might have affected their ability to concentrate. Either way, it’s a red flag that alerts a teacher they need to make sure the material is being understood.

But to a child’s grade, getting a 20 is a lot worse than getting a 58. That’s where the 4-point scale can help a child – it won’t cause as much damage to their grade as a low F will. The teacher will still be able to see which students need additional help and the students won’t have their overall grades completely sabotaged because of one poor grade. They won’t feel as down on themselves, the school, or their abilities.

While some people might think of that as letting kids off easy, in today’s world kids have to work harder than ever before to keep up. The work they do is more advanced and they are pulled in many more directions than we ever were in our youth.

There are many reasons children can have one single bad day at school that drastically reduces their grades. They could have an A average going and see that A average plummet because of one rough day.

Many of the circumstances that might earn a child a poor grade are often beyond their control. At the elementary age, it’s not just a matter of them blowing off an assignment or not trying hard enough.

With hunger an ever-increasing issue in the county, it’s not hard to imagine a child who is unable to concentrate in the classroom because they haven’t had enough to eat the night before or that morning. Colds and other minor illnesses can also lessen a student’s ability to do their best – they may be at school during those days, but not performing as well as usual because they don’t feel well.

With so many extracurricular activities for clubs, sports and organizations, both inside and outside of school, making sure children get enough sleep is a real issue. And the school district rightfully wants children to be engaged in extracurricular activities. After all, there’s a lot more to an education than what happens solely in the classroom. Students can learn teamwork and discipline from being in a sport, all while improving their physical health as well. But a lack of sleep can definitely cause a student to have an off day.

Is a four-point scale perfect? Perhaps not. But is it an improvement to the 100-point scale when it comes to addressing the modern challenges children face in schools these days?

We think so. It’s a fairer way of doing things. In our grade book, Princeton Elementary would earn 4 points for this decision.

— Bureau County Republican

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