Photo by Betti Kobak '22
Grades are undoubtedly something that occupies every student’s mind at Staples High School. Being able to perform highly in every class, whether it is an AP, honors or A class can be difficult, regardless of course. I know I am constantly looking at PowerSchool, even if I know there are no new grades coming in. The pressures of college, keeping parents satisfied and feeling confident about yourself all factor into the effort and time a student puts into perfecting their grades.
However, while this may be the case, grades are not completely dependent on how well a student performs on an assessment or the rigor of the class they are taking. Grades also depend disproportionately on a teacher’s willingness to assign a good grade.
Last year, I felt that I was struggling to keep up my grades in my classes. I had gone by my recommendations from middle school, so I had assumed the course levels I was taking would suit me perfectly.
I would compare my grades with my friends who were taking similar classes to me, and they were having no trouble keeping them up. I’d study for hours and pay attention in class, and when it came to the tests, I would always do poorly. In the past, all of the commitment I put in would have earned me a favorable grade. I constantly contemplated the problem and realized it may not have been me.
Now, this is not to say that a student can automatically blame their poor grades on their teacher. It is accurate in most cases that a poor grade reflects how much studying and focus a student puts into the unit. However, I would focus on studying exactly what would be on a study guide in my class, and the test would be nothing like it. I really knew it was an issue when my class received back our first test grade, and the highest grade was not above a 75.
Fast forward to this year. I am taking an extremely similar schedule to what I took last year, and yet I find I am already having an easier time, while maintaining a much higher grade point average. My teachers this year let me know everything that will be on my assessments, while also grading essays and tests more leniently.
Even if a teacher simply grades an assignment easier than others, it is hard to assume your fate in the class without knowing the teacher you have.
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done in a situation like this, but you should definitely give the teacher a try before you jump to conclusions based on what you have heard about them.
I once had a teacher who was known for grading harshly, so naturally I was terrified to take the class. After giving the teacher a try, I realized that they were not that hard, and that they were extremely understanding when it came to any sort of confusion in the class.
Talking to your teacher and attempting to come up with a solution can serve to be beneficial yet when I struggled in a class last year and met with my teacher, my grade was not affected. My teacher was aware of the problems I was facing, but I was not seeing the results. It is difficult to benefit from a class where you feel like progression is not available, and no student should have to feel this way.