Quicker grading standards needed

Entering grades quickly benefits students academic progress

Sitting in math class, a student’s test is returned. He looks at the date written on it. The assessment was from over a month ago. His teacher goes over the questions, but he struggles to even recollect taking the test. The class is now halfway through the next unit, so trying to understand the material and mistakes made on the test is difficult.

This student is not alone in experiencing the delayed return of assignments. According to a non-scientific Oracle-conducted survey of 373 students., 55.2 percent of GBS students have had a teacher they feel took an unreasonable amount of time to grade assignments.

While the Editorial Board understands how certain circumstances may lead a teacher to grade assignments at a slower rate, we urge teachers to update the gradebook in a timely manner so students can best understand their progress in their classes.

We believe examples of grading assignments in a reasonable time frame include taking roughly a week to grade a scantron test or a few weeks to grade an essay. However, we believe taking six weeks to grade a test or short essay is usually unreasonable unless there are unique circumstances regarding the teacher or the assignment.

Dr. Thomas Kucharski, English Department instructional supervisor, says that there is not a formal policy within his department about teacher’s timeliness in grading. He explains that if teachers were bound to a strict time limit on how fast they must grade, it could result in teachers assigning fewer long-term assignments or culminating projects.

“The more limits we put [on grading], the more we limit teachers in assigning assignments that hit certain areas, and I hesitate about that,” Kucharski said.

John Blix, Consumer Education teacher, however, believes that setting standards for departments in terms of grading could be effective in increasing timeliness. He believes that there is no downside to having a standard for grading because, that way, there is a tangible benchmark to reach.

“I think [standards] could only help— I don’t think you are ever going to be able to enforce [a deadline], I think that’s really hard, but I think people will feel a little bit of motivation if you give them a standard,” Blix said.

While we understand it is difficult to achieve uniform grading within each department, we believe that improvements can be made to ensure that students in the same course do not see as many discrepancies in the updated grades between individual classes.

We recommend that teams of teachers instructing the same courses grade assignments at the same time and aim to return graded assignments in a uniform timeframe.

As a result of students’ inability to access their grades during finals due to the bi-annual final exams Powerschool shutdown, the Oracle Editorial Board has personally observed more and more incomplete grades just prior to final exams.

In the aforementioned survey, only 29 percent of students had all of their grades completely updated prior to the Powerschool shut off.

Junior Luke DiMarco explains how, before finals last semester, he could not determine what his grade was because of unentered assignments. DiMarco says that if teachers enter grades regularly throughout the semester, then students will not be surprised come the end of the semester, as they will have had a consistent understanding of their progress.

“If [teachers] periodically update it, it’s easier to know what you have to do, but if [grades are] all thrown in at once, it could potentially [hurt you],” Dimarco said.

According to Cameron Muir, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction,  there is no overarching policy that requires teachers to have all grades updated into the gradebook before Powerschool closes prior to final exams. He says that although it may be aggravating for students to not know their updated grade before winter break and leading up to finals, the consideration of teachers should also be taken, as winter break is ultimately teachers’ time to rest as well as students’.

The Oracle Editorial Board agrees break is a time for both students and teachers to reboot, though we also we believe teachers should strive to have the gradebook updated a couple weeks prior to finals, with exceptions for unique cases. By doing this, students can most accurately gauge their standing in a class before final exams.   

The Editorial Board appreciates teachers’ effort and dedication to grading assignments. However, we believe this task can be improved if teachers work together within their departments to ensure grades are updated in a reasonable and timely manner.

In this way, students will not feel blindsided when they receive their final grades. By updating grades quickly, a new trust will form between students and teachers, as students will be able to gauge their understanding alongside their teachers’ evaluations.