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Rant & Rave

By Trevor Tamashiro

Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Grading system
fails student needs

AT the beginning of this school year I noticed all the emphasis put on grades and how important they are for a student's future. With all of this stress put on grades, students occasionally cheat on tests, homework and school projects.

Because there is cheating going on, I would like to know if there is a better alternative for teachers to gauge whether or not a student should be passed to the next grade, other than the current grading system. If there is a way to put more emphasis on learning rather than success in classroom politics, I think this method would be much better for student success and more conducive to developing good habits that will carry over to jobs in the future.

I believe there are ways to improve on a grading system that has tortured so many students throughout schools' existence. One such way could be just a simple examination of knowledge such as the SATs or an IQ test, which measures a student's knowledge as well as potential for learning.

The old system is a relic of a time when schools needed to turn out cookie cutter, single-minded thinkers for a service-based work force. It fails us at a time when we need to turn out creative thinkers to suit today's information-based economy.

The most important thing to remember is that different people have different ways of thinking, varied skills, learning styles and ways of showing their knowledge. In my opinion, the current grading system is very biased against those who are not "book smart."

This is what limits so many in the classroom. Some are natural book learners and relate better to teachers. Another person may be better at hands-on applications. They may relate better to building things based on physics and the mechanics of the way things work.

There should then be a test for actual applications of knowledge in real-world experiments as well as knowledge-based book things like the SAT or an IQ test, which just basically tests how much potential for knowledge a student has.

With this in mind, even though there will be more tests for students to take, I believe this will appeal to a broader range of students in the fact that each student will have his or her time to show how they are best able to apply knowledge to aspects of their life beyond school.

If anybody thinks this would be a good idea for the B.O.E. to consider, please let them know so that changes can be made.

The only thing that would impede change is that parents who have been put through this old way of teaching may not be open to new ideas. My suggestion may seem rather radical.

If adults are willing to keep an open mind, they may find this new way of teaching may be much better for all students. People will be unable to cheat, and with new emphasis on learning, rather than grades, they will be better able to handle college-level work, having prepared from an early age.

Parents still may not approve because they may not see how a system without grades could help their children get ahead.

I think many students who do not perform well under the old system will be able to trade high grade point averages for honor and self-esteem.

So I urge parents to try to support change if it ever comes up because it can only benefit your child. Many different learning styles will be represented by this new approach which considers future athletes, musicians and performers who may not have a talent for chemistry or history.

If there are any different methods people can think of which are reasonable, they should be brought to the attention of school administrators.

Trevor Tamashiro is a junior
at Roosevelt High School.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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