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Grading Policies in Kennedy

The grading method of the present

Causing confusion and conflict across the campus, point-based mastery grading and percentage-based letter grading are two methods of grading currently being used at Kennedy High School. 

Most commonly used at schools are the percentage based letter grading system, structured to grade students on the rate of completion on an A, B, C basis.  In comparison to the lesser used mastery grading system, which is grading based on a certain level of understanding out of four points.

But while a teacher can measure a student’s level of understanding from a class point of view, the more structural and formal letter based grading format can overlook some of these aspects causing students to get graded wrongfully.

Sophomore Brissa Ruiz stated, “I prefer mastery grading because the point system takes the student’s level of understanding into consideration rather than the letter based point system.”

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The differences between the two grading systems can cause confusion especially in the gradebook.  Mastery grading is a method that bases the student’s grades on their level of understanding in the class while standard letter grading is a system based on the points earned on an assignment or test.  

A scored test of eighty percent, or a three on a mastery graded test may not have much of an effect, as the student is meeting their standard, an eighty percent or a B- could potentially drop the student’s grade by several percentages.   

Senior Samantha Arriola stated, “I think that mastery grading holds a greater representation of our understanding of the given content.  It allows us to be less focused on earning our preferred letter grade and helps us focus on learning and mastering the subject.”

Students such as Arriola find that the stress of maintaining a certain amount of points in order to earn a letter grade causes one to overlook the importance of actually understanding the given concept and adapting it to future topics and lessons.

The letter-grading method can allow the student to meet the criteria set by their instructor by completing their assignments, but in doing so students could possibly be missing the expectations or learning objective and standard meant by the teacher. 

While the letter system is more widespread, mastery grading is making its way into teacher’s views on grading. The point by point grading system causes students to care more about the letter grade and percentage than about their level of understanding and potential of the subject in their future.

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