Making the Grade

Shannon Quigley

Today, a student’s grades and performance in high school play a major role in determining their future. While this can cause stress to students, some are not as negatively affected by this system. A survey was conducted and sent out to the students at BCA and high schoolers from other districts to determine whether grades play a more significant role in the lives of BCA students than people attending regular public schools.
From the respondents, all grades at BCA were represented, while students from other districts were only sophomores.
When asked what an acceptable grade was, 80.5% of BCA students stated that they believe an A is an acceptable letter grade. 77.8% responded A-, 46.6% selected B+, 23.8% chose B, and 9.7% of the students picked B-.
One BCA student stated, “It depends on the class and assignment of course, but for a difficult test a B- is still acceptable.”
Another student explained how, “For individual assignments, anywhere from a B- and upwards is alright. For final grades, only really an A- or A is something [they’d]’d consider acceptable”

      Others answered that they do not have a preference and simply care if they pass. Of the students attending schools in other districts, 62.5% chose A as an acceptable grade, 62.5% chose an A-, 62.5% selected B+, and 25% answered B.

      Later in the survey, students were asked what they perceive as an unacceptable grade. 35.7% of BCA students replied that a B is not acceptable. 78.4% chose C, 81.1% selected D, and the majority (82.2%) of the students responded with an F as unacceptable. 

      The data from students attending schools in other districts differed slightly from the BCA students. A whopping 75% answered that a C is unacceptable, 62.5% chose D, and 87.5% selected F. Unlike BCA students, it seems that in other high schools only 12.5% of students think a B is undesirable. Students were then asked if too much emphasis is put on grades. 85.4% of BCA students selected yes, while 14.6% chose no. The responses from students in other districts were 75% yes and 25% no. 

      Next, a number scale was used to determine how important grades are to students (1 representing not important, while 10 indicated very important). At BCA, the results were in the higher numbers: 0.5% for 3, 2.2% for 4, 1.6% for 5, 7% for 6, 18.9% for 7, 28.1% for 8, 21.6% for 9, and 20% for 10. 

      There was less variety in the responses from students attending other high schools. 12.5% selected 4 and 5, and 50% chose 8 while 12.5% chose 9 or 10. 

      The final question on the survey asked students what type of grading they prefer: letter grades, number grades, or pass/fail. 50% of BCA students selected pass/fail, while 14.7% chose number grades and 35.3% selected letter grades. 

     Only 12.5% of responses from the students in other districts preferred pass/fail grading. The results were close between the other two options – 37.5% chose letter grades and 50% favored number grades. A possible reason for the differences in data from each school could be the variance in curriculum difficulty. BCA is known for having a rigorous curriculum, as it is one of the top high schools in the state as well as the country. Due to this, it is not surprising that the students there would have a high standard for what grades they are receiving. In return, BCA students could think there is too much emphasis put on grades due to the competitiveness of the school.

       For BCA and other district schools, grades seem to be extremely important to the students. When asked if too much emphasis is put on grades, a BCA sophomore stated, “Yes, I believe it is because BCA’s environment is conducive to competition, especially when it attracts the most determined and bright kids from around the country.” 

       BCA students have more variety in their answers. This could likely be due to the fact that the school constantly burdens them with the worry that their grades are unsatisfactory, ‌where some might have become tired of the overwhelming stress. 

      However, a student from another district felt passionate about this topic. After being asked the same question about whether too much emphasis is put on grades, she answered, “As someone who values her education but also conclusively values her life experience in high school, I think too much emphasis is put on grades. It’s important to maintain a healthy GPA score and an understanding of the material we learn in school. However, so many teenagers struggle with the balance of school work and their life outside of school. I believe the ‘standards’ to have good grades in school are correct but is there really a need to have students who stay up past 12 a.m finishing school work, working themselves to the bone with barely enough sleep just to get these good grades?”

      Overall, the data and student quotes display a strong belief that too much emphasis is put on grades, and the stress this puts on students is becoming worse. Students can only hope that their school’s administration hears their cries for help and comes up with an effective solution for this issue.