Letter to Administration: Standards Based Grading Hurts Schools

Zachary Nunamaker, Guest Writer

Dear Administration:

Standards based grading was supposed to revolutionize the way we grade; Unfortunately, this was a good idea that was poorly executed.Standards based grading was supposed to be a grading system that focuses on mastering the topic and not on doing worksheets. This, due to poor execution, is not what the students on the receiving end are getting. I believe that schools should stick with Competency Based Education instead of trying to convert schools to Standards Based Grading. This sudden change is hurting schools more than helping them, this grading system does not correlate well to letter grades, communication between staff, students, and parents is also hurting this system.

With this in mind, some may say that SBG is what school systems need, but this is not true, due to these sudden changes from CBG and many other reasons including parent, teacher, and student communication, as well as, the correlation to a letter grade. A family in Pennsylvania ended up spending hours trying to figure out how the grading system worked (Standards-based grading gets an ‘F’ from old-school parents). When parents don’t know how the system grades they will not know how children are doing, they are going to get worried. If the parents don’t know what the grades mean, so the parents will be stressed not knowing how well their student/s are performing in school. By changing the grading system so suddenly, the amount of people that can help these students are thinning. “The A-F/100-point traditional grading system has been in place since the early twentieth century. This means all parents and grandparents of students currently in kindergarten through 12th grade, plus the vast majority of today’s teachers experienced school with a traditional grading system” (DeWitt). By keeping the traditional grading system this allows a much larger panel of helpers, such as the student’s parents, grandparents, and maybe even older siblings.

Another reason that schools should not use standards based grading is colleges use the 100 point grading system. If we are raising students with this 1-3 grading scale, transitioning to colleges that use the A-F/100 point grading system is going to be difficult. Imagine being taught your whole life to talk in Chinese, and then being forced into our American society, you would have a lot of trouble with people not understanding you, creating difficult obstacles in just your daily life.

Then there are all A’s students. When schools switch to SBG, these students that are exemplary will become average (DeWitt). When students aren’t recognized for their advanced work, they will be distraught and will lose motivation when they are just considered average. Colleges look for students with a good GPA, so how will the colleges determine what GPA someone has if everyone just has a 3? How will colleges transcript receive these? These are all problems that need to be addressed.

As a result of Standards based grading, people are spending time unnecessarily looking up what should be explained to them, students are losing people to turn to for help with school, 4.0 gpa students are being turned average, and are losing motivation to work. We should continue down the same path we have for decades and not stray from the road. This can all be prevented if we stay with Competency based education.


Zachary Nunamaker, freshman