Constantly changing and confusing grade policies


Wingspan Staff

Guest contributor Sankeertana Malakapalli giver her take on the new and changing grade policies.

Sankeertana Malakapalli, Guest Contributor

Why do we do all the things we do in school? It’s a simple question. And it’s something we’ve all probably asked ourselves. What are we trying to get by spending all this time stressing over school stuff? The obvious answer is grades. After all, everything we do is geared toward getting good grades and, ultimately, a good GPA.

I get it. School is hard. And at times, it can be confusing. But, it shouldn’t have to be tougher than it already is.

By this point, we all know about the new grading policies. And I’m willing to bet that quite a few of you don’t really like them. After all, when the rules that you’ve been following from probably kindergarten, like only retesting up to an 85 on tests and quizzes, have been thrown out the window all of a sudden, who wouldn’t be upset and confused? And to make matters worse, it feels like every class has a different policy. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to remember what classes I’m taking; asking me to remember how I’m being graded in each class is an entirely different story.

But first, let’s take a look at what the grading policies were last year (and years prior) and how they’ve changed this year. Up until this school year (2022 – 2023), retests have always been up to an 85, and late work counted against your grade. Extra credit was allowed, but waterfalling and Standards-Based Grading were not predominant or widely used. Perhaps the biggest difference from the grading policies this year was the major/minor system. Homework, quizzes, and small assignments were all taken as minor grades and they made up 40% of your average. Tests, projects, and other “big” assignments all went into the grade book as major grades and counted for 60% of your average.

But leading into the 2022-23 school year, the district completely revamped its grading system in an attempt to standardize grading and make it easier for students and parents to know which skills and topics to work on. One of the key changes under this new policy is ensuring that the grades that go into the grade book are based on the TEKS, or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, for that specific assignment or assessment. Yet another difference between this new policy and the old one has to do with late work. In previous years, any work submitted late resulted in a maximum grade of 70. However, under the current grading policy, late work does not impact a student’s grade, and students who submit late work face other consequences, like academic lunches and detention. 

But perhaps the most significant change this academic year is with respect to what grades are taken. Homework and small assignments are no longer taken for grades and a new formative/summative assessment system went into effect. This usually means that students have two formative assessments, which are like quizzes, before their summative assessment, which is like a test. If a student does better on their second formative assessment than their first, or on their summative assessment when compared to their two formative assessments, that second grade will “waterfall”, or replace, all the lower grades that preceded it. Students, for the first nine weeks, could retest up to a 100 and from the second nine weeks on, can retest up to a 90. 

Sometimes, it feels like maybe we’ll get used to it, and maybe, with time, we can figure this out. Not so fast. We haven’t even talked about the worst part of all of this: the fact that everything just keeps on changing. “You can retest to a 100! Oh, wait… you can’t.” How can you even hope to adapt to change if change just keeps on changing? At this point, I’m so utterly confused that I’ve given up; I’m just gonna get my stuff done, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

The sad truth is that things are always gonna be changing and we have no choice but to go with the flow. At this point, when we’re all obsessing over our grades (which probably isn’t healthy) and everything keeps changing, it’s hard on us, it’s hard on our parents, and it’s the hardest on our teachers. But even though it’s annoying and it’s difficult, we just gotta hold tight, keep doing what we’re doing, and cut everyone, our teachers especially, some slack. Because, sometimes, before things can get better, they have to get worse.