4 point no

The controversial 4-point grading system

by Esme Harkess, staff

 The 4-point grading system is hated by many students but loved by many teachers.  A new standards based grading system based on a 4-point scale was put in place this year in some classes. Whether or not this is a good thing or bad thing is for the students and their grades to find out. Almost like a science experiment, we’re the trial and error subjects.

Almost like a science experiment, we’re the trial and error subjects. ”

The 4-point grading system is just what its name implies: it’s where everything is graded out of four points. One is “standard not met,” two is “some standards met,” three is “meets standard,” and four is “exceeds standards.” 

When a teacher grades your work, harshly or not, they should only grade your work based on what you have done and your understanding of the work that’s in front of you. Most students are confused by the given standards they have to meet because they aren’t always made clear. This mainly applies to the exceeding standard category. 

When a student receives work to do, they do it because it’s in front of them, not because there’s a standard or a level of understanding they need to surpass. There should not be an exceeding standard point. Most teachers grade a 4 like it’s extra credit. It’s also way more satisfactory when assignments, projects, or the work you’re doing is out of a bigger amount of points and the teacher grades them and you get a lot of points. For example, if you got most of the answers right on a test or homework, you got the points from those problems you got right, and the assignment was out of a larger amount of points. 

Nowadays, with the 4-point system, teachers make entire tests or quizzes entirely out of only four points, which is not fair for the students. Tests or exams are worth a large percentage of your total grade and now they are out of only four points. Since it is not typical to get a four on everything, even on tests, you quite often get a two or three which leads to you getting a B or a C which can bring your overall grade down significantly.  In addition, It can be difficult for students to have classes with completely different grading systems than they’re used to.

Art by Kate Grutz

This year’s grades are very hit or miss due to the four-point grading system. It is very different from last year, where all your work and test points were out of the total number of problems, how well you understood the material, and how significant the questions were. Now it is out of the standard and not measured by the significance of the work you’re doing. Exceeding the standard means doing extra credit for most classes. 

Math classes have been grading on the 4-point system for a long time so it’s not really new, but now assignments aren’t worth anything, so it’s a shrivelling effect. The only class that makes sense that uses the four-point grading system is math. All math classes are also assessing their grades based only on tests and quizzes, and in most classes this year, homework is not worth as much or is not worth anything, so it is hard to raise your grade. In the past, math and science classes graded out of the 4-point scale, but English and history classes haven’t, so it’s an entirely different process to get used to.

Graphic by Esme Harkess

Some UW in the High School  classes like Atmospheric Science and some AP classes like APUSH have begun to use the 4-point system. If you’re in AP or UW classes, getting good grades is critical, especially if you want credit for college. If you’re in these classes, you know that it is very important to have good grades if you want to continue an academic career after high school. The 4-point system makes this tough. 

Teachers also give students a rare occasion for retakes on quizzes, tests or extra credit. So, the 4-point system is an academic gamble up against the students, where you rarely get the win. Right now, teachers I’ve talked to like the new grading system because it’s supposedly easier to get an A, but in reality it’s not. It’s just an academic scam. With some teachers who strictly grade, it is even more difficult to get good grades. Four points is such a low number of points and the difficult ability to “exceed standard” shows how bad the 4-point scale is and why we should change it.