The Pacific Times | The Only Student-Run News Website in Natomas

Student Voice: Students Benefit from No Grades

By Mickaela Del Pozo
Staff Writer | The Pacific Times

Students used to walk through the school gates each morning with the excitement to learn. This excitement is no longer present in the minds of students. Why is that?

The answer to this question is a common stressor for students: grades.

“[Grades are] a big factor in determining how productive I am with school work because a lot of things weigh on grades, like being allowed to do clubs and college options,” said senior Mia Twergo.

Experiences in school are highly dependent on their grades. Student performance in classes determine their eligibility for certain honors and clubs and whether they can participate in school events. Their grades also affect their college options, occupations and other future aspects.

The pressure to earn high grades turns into anxiety and stress. Stress from grades can also lead to plagiarism and burnout in worst cases, according to Stanford University.

A survey done by Frontiers in Psychology found that 49 percent of students experience stress daily because of school. This stress is tied to grades and is shared by many students at NP3 High School.

“I’m always stressed because I’m trying to keep my grades up,” said junior Austin Geordge. “I stress myself out over trying to get great grades when I struggle.”

The process of memorizing information, spilling that information onto an exam and forgetting it afterwards is constant in students’ life. Many students participate in lessons for the sake of their grades rather than taking the time to learn the material and apply it to their own lives.

Grades put more emphasis on short-term memorization rather than learning and takes away from students’ experiences at school. Students are taught from a young age that high grades are the most important component of their educational careers. This inevitably leads to more pressure, stress and unhappier school lives overall.

High schools in the current education system do not fully prepare their students for their lives post-high school. Students who participate in lessons in order to get a good grade instead of actually learning the material end up forgetting the material they learned. This leads to students forgetting skills that would benefit them out of school.

Many organizations proposed to omit grades in the current education system.

The absence of grades would put less pressure on students and reduce student stress. This would also encourage students to learn because they want to instead of doing so for a grade.

Organizations who specialize in education created a solution that would remove grades from the current education system. They developed the program of mastery-based learning.

Mastery-based learning is where students work on mastering a set of grade-level skills and demonstrate that they have learned them to their teachers. Students learn through worksheets, online lessons and small group discussions while working at their own pace. This system allows students to take time to master the material they are given and develop the skills they need to be successful.

This system would benefit students because it puts more emphasis on not only what students learn, but how and why they learn. Students do not fail. Students who struggle to learn at a fast pace can take time to master the skills they need. Students who thrive working quickly can move on and start learning other material. But students who are on the same set of skills can work to help each other move to the next set.

The idea of omitting grades does seem far-fetched. This system does require students to take control over their own learning but this might not work for everyone. More than 40 schools, however, have already adopted the mastery-based learning system and their students are thriving.  

Today’s students are stressed and burned out. Now is the time to change that.

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