Grade bumps for students not acceptable

As the end of the fourth quarter approaches, and as marking period grades for students come into greater focus, some students inevitably will consider approaching their teachers to ask for a grade “bump.” This process is dreaded by both teachers and students alike.

Students don’t like having to grovel for grades, and teachers definitely don’t like having to say no to students when they ask for a bump or agreeing to a bump, and then having additional students come up to them later to ask for similar treatment.
Although the view may be unpopular among students, teachers should not bump students’ grades.

With MCPS’s new grading policy, it is already much easier than it once was for a student to get an A for a semester grade. All it requires is an A in one quarter, which can be as low as an 89.5 percent, and a B in the other quarter, which can be achieved with a 79.5 percent. Under the new policy, the “trend” no longer matters, so it doesn’t matter whether the first quarter or the second quarter is the one with an A. In addition, the county has completely removed final exams and replaced them with progress checks, which for most classes are a relatively easy one or two percent grade booster. Students are already given so many opportunities from the more relaxed grading policies that they really shouldn’t need a teacher to bump them to a higher grade than was truly earned in a class.

There is also a risk of unfair bias when a teacher decides to bump a student. A teacher may be more likely to bump a student who has worked hard in class and always paid attention but finishes the semester with an 89.2 percent versus a student who doesn’t do his homework but gets good grades on tests and quizzes and finishes with the identical 89.2 percent.

Another over-arching effect of bumping grades is that it diminishes the accomplishments of students who earn the higher grade without a bump. In this school, a 99 percent in a class results in the exact same grade as an 89.5 percent. Therefore, a student who has a nearly complete understanding of the material in the class could have the exact same grade as someone who only understands pieces of the material but was able to negotiate their way into getting an 89.5 with a bump from their teacher.

Ultimately, this grade inflation hurts all of the students who earn high percentage grades when it comes to college applications and how colleges look at GPAs. With the new grading system, more students than before are getting straight A’s with 4.0 unweighted GPAs. This makes it more difficult for colleges to use GPA to distinguish between students, and it puts a lot more weight on SAT/ACT scores and extracurricular activities in the college application process. For students who are academically motivated but choose to participate in fewer extracurriculars, this may hurt their ability to get into prestigious colleges.

Common Sense Editorial

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