Aeries makes six-week grading periods unnecessary

April 6, 2011 — by Cecilia Hollenhorst and Amy Jan

Junior Stephanie Poo looked at her planner on the night of Tuesday, March 8, her eyes widening as she remembered the two projects due on Wednesday, two quizzes on Thursday, an essay to write and a test on Friday, along with her normal Color Guard practice. Why so much work during a seemingly normal school week? It must be the end of another grading period.

Junior Stephanie Poo looked at her planner on the night of Tuesday, March 8, her eyes widening as she remembered the two projects due on Wednesday, two quizzes on Thursday, an essay to write and a test on Friday, along with her normal Color Guard practice. Why so much work during a seemingly normal school week? It must be the end of another grading period.

Before grades were available on the Internet, the six-week grading period was originally created as a necessary check-in point on a student’s progress at school in addition to determining the athletic and extracurricular eligibility. Without Aeries, most students only viewed their overall grades on progress reports received by mail or when teachers printed out grade reports for students. Today, the six-week grading period has taken on a whole new meaning.

Progress reports are meant to help students and parents see how their grades are coming along, as well as plan for the next portion of the semester. However, Aeries now allows students to see grades and make such plans anytime, except for the time surrounding the six-week grading period. This creates anxiety in students who are used to the ease of viewing their grades freely.

Many students’ routines are harmed instead of helped by the end of the grading period, as they are interrupted when Aeries shuts down, leaving students unable to monitor their own grades. If the point of the six-week grading period is for students to understand their progress in classes, it does not make sense for them to be disallowed from seeing their grades as a result.

Any other time in the year, students are able to see their grades, so there is no benefit to students in having a grade report.

When Aeries returns from its shut-down surrounding the end of six weeks, students rush to check the “Gradebook” tab on the website, which shows each assignment and the score received, not the area that displays only the letter grade in the class relevant a week prior.

Teachers pile students with projects, tests and quizzes before the six-week grading period in order to ensure that the grading period includes at least one major assignment, since neither the student nor the class is well represented by. Although it does serve as a good reminder to teachers to update grades, this should not be done at the students’ expense. Just as students need to budget their time, it would be better if teachers could try to avoid cramming all of their tests in the same week.

The six-week deadline for entering grades puts pressure on teachers to finish units and hold exams in the days leading up to the end of the grading period, leaving students to fall victim to a week of stress, and later not even be able to view their grades for several days.

Not all class curricula can be fit easily into six-week blocks—some would work better with four-week units, others with seven weeks. While some teachers simply stick to their own schedules, many attempt to force their units to end every six weeks, sometimes resulting in chapters being split or cut short just to fit the time crunch.

Instead of two six-week grading periods, some teachers, especially in AP classes, choose to implement a system using midterms at the half-way point of each semester. This alternative gives the feel of mid terms, which is what colleges have.

While it is important for students to monitor their grades, the six-week grading period often does more harm than good. Aeries already makes it easy for students to stay informed about their grades; a grading system from the past is no longer needed.

2 views this week