Grades: What’s the use?


Marissa Cacciotti

All of these student-athletes play at least one sport for the school.

Grades. This is a dreaded word among most students.  So why have them? What is the point of having graded assignments?  Most teachers are going to say it’s to prepare you for the “real world”, but to address those teachers, I would simply like to ask, how? How are grades preparing us for the real world?  Personally, I feel grades are just added stress.  Some students may feel differently, but I think that if teachers give out grades like they’re passing out candy on Halloween, then every student is going to be stressed, especially when they’re student-athletes.

Let’s hear from some of our middle school student-athletes.  I know in middle school these “student-athletes” aren’t recognized as much as the high school students, but I think they should be given around the same amount of credit.  Student-athletes already have stress, whether or not they can make the game winning shot, if they can block it, what they could’ve done differently.  They don’t need homework every night, especially if it’s graded.  Here are some opinions from student-athletes and teachers.

Lily McNelis, a BAMS volleyball player, says she likes to keep her grades on the high honor roll, so if her grade drops to around a 93%, she thinks it definitely adds stress.  Lily has homework 3-4 nights a week not to mention, she has volleyball after school everyday so homework just adds to her list of to-do’s.  She thinks homework, especially with athletes, can get very stressful. I agree with Lily.  When you’re managing sports and school work, life gets stressful.

Lily isn’t the only student-athlete who feels this way.  Here are a few opinions from BAMS football players.  They get homework about four times a week, and they think grades definitely add stress.  They have football every day after school, which only takes more time away from doing their homework. The football players feel that some teachers have an understanding of due dates and grades, others not so much.

Let’s hear from Ms. Campbell, one of the few teachers who will offer retakes on tests and quizzes.  She says she doesn’t care about grades as much as she cares about brains.  Ms. Campbell thinks that learning is more important than grades.  When asked the question, “Do you think the option to retake a quiz affects students’ work ethic on the first quiz and why?”  Ms. Campbell said it can if it’s not used properly, and if she feels a student is taking advantage, she will remove the privilege.  She hopes that the option of a retake will help with some students’ performance anxiety.  Personally, I love that she offers retakes.  It relieves some stress for most students, especially student-athletes.

Another teacher, Mr. Hunter, says he agrees that what a student takes with them into the real world is what matters most, and many other teachers feel this way too.   This is Mr. Hunter’s second year teaching at Bellwood, but he already made his own Board Game club, and has helped many students.  When asked the question, “Do you think that if we got rid of grades, students would feel they no longer need to try?”  Mr. Hunter said that he does feel some students would be fine, but others not so much.

I think it’s crazy to tell a student what they HAVE to learn, and then in high school when they can finally pick their own classes, they aren’t prepared at all because what they chose to learn, and what they HAVE to learn is completely different.  I do agree with Mr. Hunter, however, in that some students might not try in English, or reading because the line of work they’re interested in might not need those skills.  I’m not saying remove the entire grading system; I’m saying just rethink some of it.  I know some students have pretty good grades, and others who could use some extra credit to say the least.  But in the end, are grades really going to matter?  Those people who just barely graduated might end up better than the ones who study three hours a night.  Honestly, in the real world they aren’t going to grade you, and they are going to let you use the internet, or even friends, parents, and other reliable sources to help you out.  So, I just have to ask, if we don’t use grades in the real world, and grades are preparing us for the real world, then what sense does that make?